Stepping It Up for Men’s Health

doctor with male patient

I’ll admit it – going to the doctor’s office is no fun. Even though I know better, my wife Lisa has had to prompt me to go in and get myself checked out on more than one occasion. I know I’m not the only man who has my partner to thank for keeping me healthy – data shows that women in the U.S. are a whole lot better at looking out for health than men are. In fact, data from the Centers for Disease Control shows that men are only half as likely as women to visit their doctors for preventative care.

The consequences are dramatic. Compared to women, men die at higher rates from the top 10 causes of death and 92% of workplace deaths occur in men. In the U.S., men die earlier than women by an average of five full years. Men, we shouldn’t stand for this, and women, don’t let your partners, sons, brothers, fathers and other male loved ones get away with ignoring their health.

This June, which is Men’s Health Month, get your favorite men to step up to the plate and start taking care of their health (and if you’re a man, step on up yourself!). The first step is making a doctor’s appointment to get a full checkup – no excuses allowed. The hardest part is just making the call.

With your doctor, be sure to touch on the following topics that are particularly important for men:

Heart disease – Men are almost 1.6 times more likely to die of heart disease than women. Most people know never to ignore any symptoms of heart disease, such as chest discomfort or shortness of breath with activity, but most cases of heart disease are silent until it’s too late. Don’t let this number one killer get you. Review your family’s heart health history and the results of your blood work with your doctor, and always eat well and exercise. Both men and women can begin their health transformation here.

Prostate cancer – One in seven men will get prostate cancer in his lifetime, making it more common than breast cancer in women. However, since false positive PSA screening may result in invasive testing or treatment that can cause long-term ill effects, prostate cancer screening is controversial. Talk with your doctor about what’s right for you.

Testicular cancer – Testicular cancer is not common, but tends to affect younger men who might be less likely to think that they’re at risk for cancer. Half of cases occur in men between 20 and 34 years old. When testicular cancer is found early, it is almost always curable, so ask your doctor to check. Isn’t a few seconds of awkwardness worth saving your life?

Mental health – Men’s mental health is often overlooked. Symptoms of depression in men may be different than for women, so may not be as easily recognized. While more women attempt suicide, men are four times as likely to complete it. If you’re noticing concerning changes in your or a loved one’s mood, get help from a healthcare or mental health professional. Also, anyone in crisis should call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

By paying attention to these common health problems (and more), we can all help our favorite men turn the tide and get their health back. Don’t wait another minute.