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Husbands. Boyfriends. Life partners. We like to think of these guys as our superheros. And even superheros need a check-up now and then, right?
Sometimes, getting the fellas in our lives to CALL THE DOCTOR can be challenging. (Except when they get a cold. Then, they’re ready to go to the ER, but we digress.) Men’s health issues often get pushed to the bottom of their lists, or they think they don’t need to do much. We know differently.
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, a recent survey says, “…The majority of American men don’t seek care right away when they have concerns about their health, are sick or are in pain. Most men said they wait a few days (40 percent) or even a week (19 percent) first to see if they feel better, with 30 percent saying they wait as long as possible to seek treatment.”
It seems guys don’t like going to the doc when they’re sick, BUT the survey also reported that men are paying more attention to their health and taking action, i.e. going to the doctor for regular check-ups and exercising regularly. Good news for men’s health overall.
Oh, and ladies, they really do listen to us.
From the AAFP survey, “Men who reported having a spouse or significant other (80 percent) said their partner had at least some influence over their decision to go see a physician. “
As moms and wives, we can’t take care of everything. And come on now, nor should we. Our men are grown ups, after all! However, it can help with our peace of mind (and providing, ahem, gentle reminders) to have some idea what the men in our lives might face as they age.
Men’s health in their 20s…
The 20s are like a golden age of health. We feel and look pretty great! While there’s not too much to think about healthwise, it’s prime time for your fella to build good men’s health habits.
- He should visit the doctor for a physical and basic blood tests. The doc will also discuss lifestyle habits, review immunizations, do a depression screening and a domestic violence screening.
- Cholesterol screening: All adult men should have lipid panels run every five years or as the doc recommends.
- He needs to get enough sleep (Well, providing the kids aren’t keeping everyone awake.)
- Eat a (relatively) healthy diet.
- Use sunscreen! Using sunscreen faithfully while we’re young can save our skin. Many of us are watching our parents have multiple biopsies to check for skin cancer. Do what you can to prevent this by slathering everyone with sunscreen.
Remember how we said that many men feel like invincible superheros who never need a doctor?
Contributor Rachel describes the extreme situation it took to get her husband to admit he needed care, “My husband is a bull when it comes to going to the doctor. Case in point: he was in excruciating pain on our honeymoon (we were on a cruise and he never told me about the pain). We came home a week later and he caved in and told me about the pain. I knew immediately it was appendicitis. He refused to go to the hospital at 8 a.m., so I had to call into work (I work nights) and take him to the doctor at 4 p.m. He said, “I’m pretty sure it’s your appendix” and sent us over to the hospital for a CT. Long story short, we spent the night in the ER and he was one of the first cases the next morning… I thought it would teach hubby a lesson, but it hasn’t.”
Yikes! Sorry Rachel! I guess at least you didn’t have to find care on the cruise ship! Our takeaway from this? Young or old, sometimes things happen and visiting the doctor is a necessity.
In their 30s…
- Cholesterol: While they may have had levels like this checked on occasion, starting at age 35, men should get their cholesterol checked every three to five years, depending on results. If family history dictates -with the presence of high blood pressure, heart disease, or other cardiac risk factors – they should have a blood test for cholesterol at age 25.
- Weight gain/slowing metabolism – If they’ve been even moderately active in their youth, many men don’t have to think much about their weight. Then in the late 30s (or perhaps 40s if they’re lucky), metabolism starts to slow and weight sticks around. Your Wellness Center has various weight management options available for managing this challenging problem. From meal replacements to addressing hormone issues, they can help.
- Hypertension screening: His doctor will check blood pressure at each visit.
Men’s health in their 40s….
You know how moms hate it when people say, “Just wait, it gets so much harder!” or “Just wait! You’re going to miss this phase.”
We hate to be one of THOSE people, but… “Once you hit 40, everything goes downhill from there!”
Bad news. This one is true.
In talking to our contributors, we learned that 40 really is a rough age. Apparently, the bill comes due and it’s time to pay up.
All is not lost, though! Your man just needs to make some changes and be aware of a few things…
- Back problems – Remember when our parents would sit down (or get up) and they would make a noise like, “Oof!” or “Ouch!”? Yeah, that’s us now. If your husband is (or was) a sports guy, he might be experiencing more aches and pains as he hits 40. If back problems are popping up, it’s time to ask the doc for exercises to help maintain a healthy back.
- Sleep issues – If his snoring has finally driven you crazy, send your husband to the doctor and request a sleep study. He might need a C-PAP to deal with sleep apnea or other issues.
CMB contributor Kim forced the issue with her husband. She says, “…His snoring has become a problem. I’ve pushed him to speak to our PCP, over the years, and he brushes it off. He saw his doctor last week and finally brought it up. It took me telling him I would not go with him, on a vacation, until it was addressed.”
- Erectile Dysfunction – We know. This one is so tricky.
A CMB contributor told us, “...My husband is starting to deal with ED issues. He refuses to seek medical care about it and refuses to really discuss it much. If a discussion does start, it usually ends with an argument of some sort. I don’t bring it up much so as to not rock the boat…but by the same token, I’d like to have my boat rocked again if you know what I mean!!”
We understand, lady! And there are options – discreet options – for men to deal with ED. Plus, it will comfort them to know that their ED is likely due to andropause. Think of it as the male version of menopause. Their hormone levels start decreasing and this can lead to (or exacerbate) ED. Your Wellness Center has various options for treating ED, depending on the cause and severity.
- Joint Pain: Owwwwww…. If joint soreness and tenderness have appeared, your man might consider changing his workout routine. At Your Wellness Center, they offer PRP – platelet rich plasma – a regenerative medicine technique. Derived from his own blood, PRP is a high concentration of platelets– with up to 5-10 times as many growth factors as a normal blood sample. It can treat joint pain and stiffness, osteoarthritis and arthritis among other conditions.
- Diabetes screening: If your husband has a higher probability of diabetes, i.e. he’s overweight or obese, has a family history, or has high blood pressure or cholesterol, his doctor will likely want to screen for Type 2 diabetes. He’ll run a fasting glucose test or hemoglobin A1C and depending on the results, will make recommendations – from diet changes to insulin needs.
- Colonoscopy: Usually started in the early 50s, he’ll need to start having this important colorectal cancer screening exam every 10 years.
- Prostate cancer: When it comes to prostate cancer screenings, recommendations among healthcare professionals vary widely. Your husband should talk to his doctor about the benefits and risks of screenings to determine the best course for him. His doctor may recommend the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. which measures the blood level of a certain protein that, if elevated, COULD indicate prostate cancer.
It may seem like a lot, but keeping our loving life partners functioning in top form is worth it, right? Of course!
Now, let’s talk about that girls weekend away to keep mom sane…