1. Don’t wait for your partner to drag you to the doctor
Men seem to be reluctant to see a doctor when they have health problems. “Most men I see have come to see me because their wives pushed them,” said Dr. Amit Mehta, a family medicine physician at Geisinger Health System, a regional health care provider in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Mehta tells of a male patient who came to see him because of his wife, and “[w]ithin three weeks he had a triple bypass.”
2. Don’t treat doctors as strangers
“As a urologist, I find that most men feel their symptoms are difficult to talk about with anyone, much less with a complete stranger,” Dhir said. No one knows your body and what’s normal for it better than you. You have to be an open book about your symptoms — all of them.
3. See your doctor at least once a year
“Men tend to be a bit stubborn and prone to brushing things under the rug,” Dhir said. This has to do with why we typically get a significant delay in men seeking medical care in comparison to women, he noted. “In general, adult males should see their doctor at least once a year for a physical exam.” For men between 18 and 39, the recommendation by the National Institutes of Health is to check their blood pressure at least once every two years, their cholesterol every five years, and their eyes every year.
4. See your doctor more often as you age
“Men are like cars, as we age we will unfortunately be in the shop more often,” Dhir said. Aging is a risk factor for many conditions, including weight gain as one’s metabolism slows, and brain atrophy. The bones become more fragile, and the risk of cancer increases exponentially — half of cancers develop in people over 65. Get screened for various conditions, and depending on the results, you may have to go for checkups a few times a year. “Some men will require specialists as they age for routine preventative screening for conditions like colon cancer; or they may need a cardiologist for a stress test,” Dhir added.
5. Screen for low testosterone
“I like to screen for low testosterone, or hypogonadism, in any aged male who presents with symptoms of Low T,” Dhir said. Symptoms include chronic fatigue, low libido or sex drive, troubles getting or keeping an erection, or significant weight gain, he noted. All men with these types of symptoms should get a proper workup, he added, “as hormone optimization can be quite beneficial for men in the long term.” Newer evidence shows that keeping optimal testosterone levels over long periods of time can help prevent many chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes, Dhir explained. Biting your nails and other symptoms may be signs of these and more health problems.