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How to Get Your Man to Go For a Check-Up

By Rhonda Mann
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center staff

Alicia High use to drag her husband to the doctor for his annual check-up.

"Would you call it 'nagging' or 'encouraging?'" Alicia asked her husband Lester, who was seated at her side.

"Stick with the first," he answered, laughing.

But getting a man to the doctor is nothing to joke about. According to Dr. Jacques Carter , a primary care physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, many men are reluctant to make that regular visit.

"I am generalizing, of course, but men tend not to get routine check ups - at least not with the same regularity as women do," he says. "There is sort of a misconception that men's health is prostate and Viagra, but there's a lot more to it than that."

In fact, Dr. Carter points out that men are more likely to have a heart attack, stroke and stress-related illnesses and die of certain cancers than women. Regular exams are critical, he says, because they can pick up problems when they're most treatable.

That's why Dr. Carter recommends that men in their 20s get a routine check-up once every two or three years; after they turn 30, at least every two years, and every year after their 40th birthday. He says those milestones are a great time for women to talk to the men in their lives about health.

"I think wives and significant others need to push because that's when guys are vulnerable. When they turn 30, when they turn 40," he says. "Guys will think, 'Okay, I'm getting older, I'm going to get that check-up.'"

To help motivate men to make the appointment, Dr. Carter also suggests women ask their guy to schedule the visit as a gift to you, enlist the aid of one of his trusted peers to encourage him, and to make sure he has a doctor he feels comfortable with.

But it still can be a tough sell. In Lester's case, motivation came in the form of the loss of a loved one.

"I was trying to encourage him to get a colonoscopy. We lost his father to colon cancer," Alicia says. "I wanted him to be healthy so he can take care of his kids."

"That was the turning point," Lester says, recalling the hard time his dad went through fighting the disease. "Prior to that, I thought nothing could stop me. I was invincible."

Lester had the screening and was surprised with the finding - the test revealed four precancerous polyps. Lester discovered a new appreciation of routine care.

"Once a year, I get my blood work done, I see what my cholesterol levels are, my blood pressure," Lester says. "I put a lot more value on my health right now. I have a lot to look forward to."

Above content provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.

Posted October 2011

Contact Information

Prostate Cancer Center
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Shapiro Clincial Center
330 Brookline Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
Phone: 617-667-7777
Fax: 617-667-7292