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When it comes to health, men aren’t always the greatest advocates for themselves. Why?

“Guys tend to shy away from healthcare unless they’re injured or really don’t feel well,” says J. Jacques Carter, MD, MPH, a physician with Healthcare Associates (HCA) at BIDMC. “Women and children connect with physicians early in life, but culture and attitude often keep men from doing the same.”

“In some ways, men are taught culturally to be tough and there’s something about going to the doctor that diminishes that in their minds,” adds Abraham Morgentaler, MD, a specialist in the Division of Urology at BIDMC and medical director at Men's Health Boston. “But many of the issues that men just live with are treatable. Staying healthy may just be a matter of changing habits and lifestyle.”

So, let’s get a “checkup” for men.

Health Concerns

Smoking, drinking too much, having a poor diet and carrying around a few unhealthy, extra pounds are all behaviors that can cause problems and lead to even bigger issues as men age. Kicking the tobacco habit and limiting alcohol consumption to no more than two drinks a day are good for starters. A healthier diet, exercise and a little weight loss will pay dividends down the road, especially when it comes to brain and heart health.

Pain—whether in the chest, back, neck, head or eye—is a symptom that men tend to ignore the most.

“Any sort of pain means something is going on and it’s a symptom that can be dangerous to ignore,” says Carter. “Visiting a physician sooner rather than later can either help rule out a bigger issue, or help you get treatment for a problem much quicker.”

Depression among men is also a concern. Because of the stigma surrounding mental health conditions, men don’t always see a physician or specialist on their own. It is often someone else—a spouse, partner or family member—who makes the office visit happen.

“Depression is very treatable and new therapies can help make it easier to manage,” says Carter. “The harder part is encouraging men to open up and seek help.”

Age Matters

It’s true! Certain health issues become more frequent as men age. Family history plays a big part in what a physician will focus on, but there are key issues and screenings that are age-related for any man.

Age Concerns & Screenings
20s
  • Safe sex counseling and screenings
  • Blood pressure
  • Cholesterol
30s
  • Nutrition counseling
  • Managing weight
  • Exercising more
  • Eye exams
40s
  • Discussions about Prostate cancer screening for men at high risk (African Americans or men with a family history of prostate cancer)
  • General skin exams
  • Discussions about colon cancer, depending on family history
50s
  • Prostate cancer screening
  • Colorectal cancer screening/colonoscopy
60s
  • Staying fit with diet and exercise
  • Lung cancer screening, if history of smoking
  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) screening, if history of smoking
  • Osteoporosis, especially for men at high risk
70s+
  • Weakness and fractures
  • Keeping the mind fit
  • Maintaining a healthy diet
  • Diabetes screening
  • Sexual problems
  

“One of the most difficult things for men to deal with are sexual problems,” says Morgentaler. “However, problems with sex—especially as one ages—are extremely common.”

Common issues such as erectile dysfunction and low testosterone are very treatable. “Sexuality is a normal, healthy part of who we are and when it isn’t going well, we don’t feel good,” Morgentaler adds. “Speak up and talk to your doctor. There’s an excellent chance we can help restore a satisfying sex life, providing a sense of vitality and a spark to relationships. We put a lot of smiles back on men’s faces.” 

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