The Men's Health Screenings You Should be Doing
You don’t want to go to the doctor. We know. To help you make the most of the times you do see your provider, Mark Newton, M.D., UnityPoint Health, breaks down the top men’s health concerns and the suggested health screenings, plus, four ways to benefit your overall health.
- Self-exams for testicular cancer. Perform monthly checks for testicular masses, as some forms of testicular cancer are more common in younger men. Finding anything unusual requires a visit to your primary care provider or urologist.
- Vasectomy. Depending on social situation, it can be a good time to control reproduction through vasectomy.
- Urologic trouble. Most men in this age range shouldn’t have urologic symptoms. If something like a blockage in the urinary tract occurs, it could mean something specific to your anatomy.
“Men in this age group begin to have issues with enlarged prostates, erectile dysfunction, and if they are smokers, they enter the age range where cancer in the lining of the urinary tract can present, often with blood in the urine,” Dr. Newton says.
- Prostate cancer screening. Generally, men between ages 40-55 should begin receiving prostate cancer screenings through a PSA test. Family history is important, and men with a positive history should be screened earlier. Talk about the risks/benefits of PSA screening with your primary care provider.
- Enlarged prostate. Symptoms of prostate enlargement include decreased urinary stream, increased urgency/frequency of urination, a stream that starts/stops during the course of urinating, difficulty starting the stream and getting up at night to urinate. Symptoms can be managed with medications.
- Erectile dysfunction. Erectile dysfunction is common and can impact up to 50 percent of men over the age of 40. There are a range of treatments, from oral medications, to penile injections, even implantable prosthetic devices.
- Blood in urine. This is never normal and always a red flag.. Testicular self-exams are also still recommended.
- Prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is most common in men of this age and a discussion about PSA screening should continue with your primary care provider.
- Urinary symptoms or incontinence. Men may have worsening urinary symptoms or even incontinence from bladder/prostate issues, which can usually be managed with medications but sometimes require surgical intervention. Seeing your provider early is important because ignoring symptoms can be harmful.
- Blood in the urine. See your provider, as it is never normal.
How Men Can Improve Their Health
While each man is unique, Dr. Newton lists the four areas men should focus on to benefit their overall health.
- Diet. Diet can directly contribute to disease processes including diabetes, heart disease and even formation of kidney stones.
- Smoking. Most people know smoking is a number one cause of lung cancer, but they don't always know it is also the number one cause of kidney and bladder cancers. It also contributes to heart disease and erectile dysfunction. No matter when you quit, there are health benefits. It’s never too late.
- Reproductive health. Screening allows men to take some control and be proactive. Monthly self-exams beginning at puberty should continue throughout adult life to evaluate for testicular cancer. PSA screening is appropriate for many men, and there should be a joint discussion with their primary care provider about it around age 50.
- Managing stress, adequate sleep and exercise. Mental health is an important piece of a man's overall health. Don’t ignore things like stress, anxiety or depression. Exercise is a great stress reliever that can have a positive impact on multiple health issues (diabetes, obesity, etc.).
Dr. Newton’s number one piece of health advice for men? If something seems abnormal, have it checked out.
“Ignoring symptoms and delaying treatment can result in problems that can be life-threatening, or at the very least, can be more difficult to manage at a later stage,” Dr. Newton says.