Men: Just do it! Don’t skip your annual health exams

men's health

Just do it! So goes the celebrated adage. An imperative statement commanding us to get off our backsides and move into action. Sometimes, this is what it takes to focus our efforts and take care of a much-neglected task. Just do it! Go get your preventative health exam.  

Historically, preventative health care services are generally underutilized by the general public, but even more so by men. The exact reasons why are not well understood, but I can guess a few. These can range from ideas of masculine invincibility to embarrassment or reluctance to have the more sensitive areas examined. And, no doubt, access to care and the difficulties of navigating the health care world play a role. Still, it is important to, just do it. 

There are several recommendations of services that are available to prevent diseases or detect them early enough to have a significant impact on outcomes. Your primary care physician can help to navigate all these options. This doctor can advise you when to get a flu vaccine (yearly) or a shingles vaccine (at age 50). They can also tell you when you should begin colon cancer screening (45, for most people) and prostate cancer screening. They can tell if you need more advanced cardiac testing or cancer detection testing. 

This list is in no way complete. Mainly because your assessment will be individualized to you, taking into account your family’s health history and your personal health history. It should also incorporate a comprehensive exam, including those sensitive areas mentioned above. During the preventative exam, your doctor will assess your blood pressure, weight and BMI; examine your organ systems, including your heart health; ask questions about your diet, alcohol, tobacco and drug use. You will be asked questions about your mental health, which is just as important as your physical health. Taken together, all this information can be used to help your clinician determine what needs to be done to help you stay as healthy as you can for as long as you can. 

Equally important is to maintain this exam on a periodic basis. This is not a one-and-done type situation. Sometimes the recommendations get updated, or there are new, important health changes in yourself or your family that will alter what you need to do. Maintaining a relationship with a clinician will help you to stay on top of all the current guidance and help manage and treat those issues that are discovered. They can help you to navigate a health care environment that, even on a good day, is incredibly confusing. Additionally, your primary care physician can assist you in sorting through all the health care misinformation that is out there these days. 

Now is the time to stop procrastinating. Now is the time to take charge of your health and be proactive. So, while it may seem scary or hard, the best way to ensure that you stay your healthiest self is to get a preventative health exam. Let’s just do it!


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Dr. Charles D. Cohn

Specialties: Internal Medicine

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Dr. Cohn is a board-certified physician in internal medicine at Mount Vernon Internal Medicine.

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