Men: Find a medical home base early on. (Pass this along to male twenty-somethings.)
By David Martin, President and CEO of VeinInnovations
Let’s spend this week talking about assets. With proper maintenance and care, a car can last a decade, or more. Our investments, when carefully managed, will grow and provide for us when we retire. How can we treat material possessions so conscientiously, yet fail to look after our bodies with the same diligence?
Men are the guiltier party when it comes to neglecting self-care. An alarming number of men stop going to the doctor after they age out of pediatric care at 18. Men typically don’t go back to the doctor until their 40s. Objectively, this is a terrible idea. (But I’m sure there are a few men reading this who will agree, while still falling into the category.)
Men are almost 20 percent less likely than women to have seen a doctor in the last year. But men are at greater risk of developing cancer (one-in-two) than women, and have higher death rates in all 10 leading causes of death. The causes include cancer, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s and diabetes. On average, men die six years earlier than women. So why do men shy away from the doctor?
Men are more likely to ignore health problems when they do arise, putting off a visit to the doctor even when they are sick. When they feel fine, men skip the doctor all together. But feeling fine and being healthy are two different things.
From 18 to 39, the CDC recommends a preventative check up every two years. Sound excessive? Think about the benefits. At every age, we’ve got health concerns to discuss and preventative measures worth taking. One of the best ways to prevent future illness or catch it early is to establish a “medical home base.” Establishing a good relationship with a primary care doctor and visiting them on a regular basis is the cornerstone of preventative care. Find a primary care doctor you like, and with whom you feel comfortable discussing your health. Preventative care is key: we can head off many major health problems before they start. After all, it is usually easier tot illnesses sooner, when they’re easier to cure, than later, when they are likely to have become painful and more costly.
Preventative Care Before Age 40
In your late teens, your doctor will provide an HPV and meningitis vaccination and a tetanus booster shot. Other vaccines may be recommended – you’ll have to chat with your doctor to find out what you need.
As soon as (and hopefully before) you’re sexually active, your doctor should discuss sexual health with you. It doesn’t hurt to be reminded of best practices and you may have questions for a medical professional. Further, you may need regular screening for STDs. Your doctor will be able to recommend what’s best for you.
Also starting in your late teens, you’ll need blood pressure checks. High blood pressure doesn’t just happen to out of shape guys in their 40s. It’s important to keep an eye on your blood pressure, because high blood pressure can damage your body for years before symptoms show up.
Starting in your 20s, your doctor will check your cholesterol. High cholesterol is one of many controllable preventable risks for heart disease, stroke, and heart attack. In addition to the tests your doctor performs, they’ll be engaging in a frank discussion of your health and behaviors.
For way too many men, the trip to the doctor is the only time we engage in a meaningful conversation about our health. Go to the doctor. Let your primary care provider help cheer on and guide you to a longer, healthier life.
If you are in your 20s, take note! And if you know a young man in his 20s, you’ll be doing him – and his future significant other – a favor by passing this article along.