January 20, 2021

The My Southern Health Guide to Men’s Health

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Follow these health tips for men to take charge of your health at any age.

Men: don’t wait for a medical issue to crop up to start paying attention to your health. Research shows that men are 24 percent less likely than women to have seen a doctor within the last year. But an annual visit can help you and your health care provider compile your medical history and plan a roadmap for tackling the tests and screenings you’ll need throughout the years. We’ve rounded up our best health tips for men to help you navigate wellness throughout your life.

Teens and 20s

In your teens, your parents will likely guide you through the process of getting a physical or staying on top of your vaccinations. But as you enter adulthood, it’s important to take the reins on male health needs.

  • Make an appointment with a primary care physician or nurse practitioner, if you don’t already have a trusted health care provider. If you move or no longer have access to a university clinic, build a relationship with a new provider as soon as possible.
  • Get the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. If you didn’t get this important immunization when you entered your teenage years, you can still get it as a young adult, usually up to age 21 for men. The HPV vaccine offers protection from HPV-related head and neck cancers and could save your life.
  • Practice safe sex with condom use. People ages 15 to 24 account for half of all new STD infections that occur each year in the United States. Talk to your health care provider about how often you should be tested based on your risk factors.
  • Avoid binge drinking to reduce your risk of stroke and other cardiovascular issues. And if you smoke, make efforts to quit. Your health care provider can help you find a method that works for you. You’ll reap the health benefits fast.
  • Get your annual flu shot to protect yourself and those around you. Plus, get the tetanus-diphtheria and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccine once after age 19, and follow up for a tetanus booster every 10 years.

Middle age

In middle age, you might be focusing on career goals, starting or raising a family, caring for aging parents — or all of the above. Your 30s, 40s and early 50s can be an extremely busy time. But it’s important to stay on top of your wellness with a regular physical and screening schedule set up with your health care provider.

  • Keep your stress levels down by exercising and taking occasional time outs. Make healthy meal and snack choices to fuel your day and your workouts.
  • Learn your family’s medical history to consider whether hereditary cancers are a concern and to make a choice about seeking genetic counseling.
  • Educate yourself about the four deadliest cancers in men. Plus, learn how to reduce your risk, watch for signs and symptoms and when to get screened.
  • Know the warning signs of sudden cardiac arrest and what to do. And learn about your potential risk factors.
  • Get screened for colorectal cancer with a colonoscopy at age 45. You may need earlier screenings depending on your risk factors. Schedule repeat colonoscopies every 10 years.
  • Determine your need for lung cancer screening. Screenings are recommended if you’re 50 and still smoke. Even if you’ve quit within the last 15 years, you should still be screened if you have a heavy smoking history. That’s considered smoking a pack a day for 20 years or the equivalent (i.e., smoking two packs a day for 10  years).

55+

When you turn 55, you’ll have a few more screenings to add to your schedule. In addition, focus on maintaining a healthy lifestyle by staying active and eating a heart-healthy diet. Plus, get any provider-recommended vaccinations like the pneumococcal vaccine to prevent pneumonia (typically age 65), and the herpes zoster vaccine to prevent shingles (usually ages 50 to 60).

  • At age 55, talk to your doctor about whether you need to be screened for prostate-specific antigen (PSA). Alert your health care provider to any changes in urination, like frequency or weak flow. If you’ve had prostate surgery or experience pelvic pain, pelvic floor physical therapy might be a solution.
  • Understand your risk factors for osteoporosis-related stress fractures. You may not need a bone density screening until age 70, but it’s a good idea to ask your health care provider if you should get earlier testing.

It’s important to have a primary care provider to oversee all of your healthcare needs. Click here to see the locations and options available for Vanderbilt Primary Care.

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