Stop Illness Before Symptoms Arise

It’s a stereotype that men avoid doctors, even when they do not feel well. So it is especially difficult to talk about the importance of preventive screenings, which are meant to catch health issues before symptoms arise. The leading causes of death in males in 2013 (the most current year the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has reported) were heart disease, cancer, accidents, lower respiratory diseases, stroke, and diabetes. Most of those causes have a screening test that can help prevent or treat the disease with early diagnosis.

Based on your family history and other risk factors, your care plan and preventive screening timeline might look different than someone else your age and gender. Having a strong relationship with your primary care physician will ensure that you are keeping up with the necessary screenings for your specific situation.

The general guidelines for preventive services are below:

  • Medical history – Establish a baseline and review annually starting at age 18
  • Physical exam – Annually, unless otherwise directed by physician
  • Blood pressure – Every one to two years or at each office visit starting at age 18
  • Height and weight – At each office visit
  • Cholesterol levels – Every five years for adults starting at age 20
  • Diabetes – Routinely if risk factors apply starting at age 18; every three years after age 40 if normal reading
  • Hearing test – Periodically starting at age 18
  • Eye exam – Annually, unless otherwise directed by physician
  • Teeth cleaning – Every six months
  • Digital rectal exam – Annually starting at age 50
  • Screen stool for occult blood – Annually starting at age 50
  • Colonoscopy – Every 10 years, if normal, starting at age 50

Preventive screens specifically for men include:

  • Self-testicular exam – Monthly starting at age 18
  • Clinical testicular exam – Annually starting at age 18, unless otherwise directed by physician
  • Prostate digital exam – Consult with your physician around age 35
  • PSA test – Consult with your physician around age 45

The CDC found in a 2014 study that married men were more likely than unmarried men to have had a health care visit within the past 12 months, possibly due to encouragement from their partner. While you certainly do not need to be married to make an appointment with your physician or to empower a loved one to do so, this study showed how important the encouragement of healthy habits is. National Men’s Health Week is June 13-19. To celebrate, call and schedule your annual physical with your physician, or remind the men in your life to do so.

For more information about the screening tests that might be recommended for you, visit and talk to your doctor about next steps.