Even strong, silent types need an annual wellness visit

Many men would rather talk about news, sports or jobs – maybe even feelings – than talk about their health.

And deep down, many would admit they go to the doctor mostly to make their partner happy. Or when they can’t do what they used to do. And sometimes they wait too long.

Women have reasons all their lives to go to the doctor when they’re not sick, from birth control to cancer screenings. Men don’t always have similar reasons. So let’s pick one: June is Men’s Health Month. If you haven’t seen your primary care provider by June, call this month to set up your annual wellness visit.

Think of your annual wellness visit like changing the oil in a car. You do it because the manufacturer’s specifications say it’s good for your car. You might push it a bit. But you wouldn’t go years without changing the oil.

As it turns out, there are specifications for you, too. There is a research-based list of recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force on what people need to do for their health.

This includes talking to your doctor about blood pressure, weight, diet, exercise and drug and alcohol use. Your doctor will also want to talk about heart health, and things you can do to stay healthy, like not smoking, and maintaining a healthy weight.

Maybe you don’t want to hear what the doctor says, but it’s like when your car makes a troubling noise. Experience tells you it’s better to fix a problem sooner rather than later. Dr. Corey Bergey is an emergency department physician at Providence Medford Medical Center, part of Jackson Care Connect’s provider network. Dr. Bergey says in recent years she has seen an increase in problems in the emergency room that could have been addressed in a primary care visit.

“Most of those patients, they knew something was up,” Dr. Bergey says. “Whether it was fear or being too busy that made them put it off, they didn’t seek out attention when something could have been done.”

If you’re worried about “that” test, rest easy.

It’s not recommended that every man be screened for testicular or prostate cancer. Depending on your family history, along with other lifestyle and health factors, your doctor may suggest it.

One important bit of maintenance for people older than 50 is colon cancer screening. Now you can do this in the comfort of your own home. Your doctor will give or mail you a FIT kit. You collect the sample and mail it in. This kind of screening must be done every year. Another way is to get a colonoscopy every 10 years.

Finally, a very good reason to get regular checkups is to connect with your provider and build a strong relationship.

“That old adage is true – an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” Dr. Bergey says. “It’s very important to be involved in your own health.”

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