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June is Men’s Health Month and a perfect time for men to evaluate their personal health and become more proactive if necessary. Celebrated throughout the United States, Men’s Health Month offers all of us the opportunity to promote wellness among boys and men. For example, Sunday, June 18 has been designated as Wear Blue Day and you can show your support and raise awareness by wearing something blue on that day.
Eating healthy and being active through regular exercising are two of the most important decisions a man can make to live healthy. Not only do these initiatives lower the risk of health problems like heart disease and diabetes, but men who maintain a healthy lifestyle also tend to have less stress, more energy and a higher level of optimism.
Although some men are very proactive about their health, others seem to benefit by receiving a little push from the women in their life. According to Dennis M. Jensen, MD, at AdventHealth Medical Group Primary Care at Prairie Star, women play a key role in helping men to stay healthy.
“Often, women are the ones who plan meals and activities for their families, care for their aging parents and encourage their spouses to get to the doctor for wellness visits,” said Jensen. “I have cared for numerous male patients who have had potentially life-threatening conditions diagnosed and treated at the prompting of their spouse or daughter.“
As part of Men’s Health Month, AdventHealth encourages men to schedule an annual exam with a primary care provider in order to obtain recommended annual health screenings.
“I have been impressed with how many of my younger male patients in their 20s and 30s take charge of their health and get physicals, even when not required by their employer’s insurance,” said Jensen. “Some of my patients are very proactive about their health and make annual visits for physicals while others procrastinate or ignore the need completely.”
With most health insurances and Medicare covering the entire cost of annual wellness visits, it’s tough to justify a good reason why you should skip seeing your doctor each year.
One of the most important reasons to see your doctor annually is to stay on track with recommended cancer screenings. Many cancers can be treated successfully if detected early.
Jensen recommends the following cancer screenings for his male patients:
- Colorectal Screening – Men should begin screening at age 45 unless the parent or sibling has a history of colorectal cancer prompting them to start earlier. Screening should continue until at least age 75. While men only need colonoscopies every five to 10 years, other colorectal screenings tests like Cologuard should be completed every 3 years.
- Skin Cancer Screening – Each year, men should have their primary care physician or a dermatologist do a complete skin exam to look for signs of skin cancer.
- Prostate Cancer Screening – Men who are experiencing prostate symptoms such as frequent nighttime trips to the bathroom, straining with urination, a weak urine stream or frequent dribbling at the end of urination should be screened annually.
- Lung Cancer Screening - Men who over the age of 55 with a history of smoking may benefit from having an annual low-dose CT scan of the chest.
- Heart Screening - It’s important to continue to monitor heart health, as heart disease is the leading cause of death in men aged 45–54. Poor diet, stress, and lack of exercise in younger years can turn into heart issues at this age, so men should assess their risk level with their doctor to determine frequency of screenings for things like cholesterol, blood pressure, and general cardiovascular health.
According to Jensen’s experience with patients, men’s top health priorities are weight control, boosting energy levels, keeping a positive attitude and maintaining a healthy sex life – all issues that can have a substantial impact on physical and emotional health.
“Many patients are reluctant to bring up these issues with their primary care physician because they are embarrassed or feel that nothing can be done for their problem,” said Jensen. “The truth is that, in the majority of cases, your physician can help in these matters. Your physician wants you to have the best health possible, and that starts with taking the initiative to choose to live healthy.”
Our team of experts at AdventHealth in Kansas City are here to help men identify ways to improve their health. To learn more or schedule an appointment with one of our men’s health providers, visit AdventHealthKC.com/MensHealth.