Men are more likely than women to neglect their health. They are less likely to see themselves as ill or susceptible to disease when, in fact, they are more susceptible. So, in recognition of Men's Health Month, our June wellness focus is on things all men can do to take care of themselves.
Take preventive health care measures.
We all know the importance of annual checkups, screenings, and preventive health care. Still, most men seek medical attention only when they are very sick or are pressured by a loved one to go a doctor. Compared to women's doctor visits, men's are shorter, and less likely to include advice on lifestyle changes for better health. Yet nearly 75 percent of American men are obese or overweight.
Men should take an active role in their health by being aware of preventable conditions and early detection screenings, and by making healthy lifestyle choices.
Speak up, talk to your doctor.
Men tend not to be talkers at doctors' visits, whether they think they should tolerate pain or should not express worries, or are simply uncomfortable. Speak openly with your primary care provider, who is there not just to treat you when you are sick but to partner with you to help prevent health issues.
Get your prostate health checked.
All men are at risk for prostate cancer—now the most common form of cancer in men—and the risk increases with age. Early prostate cancer often has no warning signs. In the advanced stage, symptoms include trouble having or keeping an erection; blood in the urine; slow or weakened urinary stream, or the need to urinate more often; and pain in the pelvis, spine, hips, or ribs.
Other diseases also can cause these symptoms, so it's important to speak to your doctor to determine the exact cause of your own issues and learn ways to lower your risks for prostate cancer and other diseases.
Get your testosterone levels checked.
This male hormone peaks during the teenage and young adult years. It naturally declines with age, but lower than normal levels can be connected to diabetes, heart disease, and depression.
Dispel the gender myths.
Although many people think that women are more prone than men to depression and suicide, just the opposite is true. It's important to know the symptoms of depression, which include persistent feelings of sadness, difficulty sleeping, and loss of interest in activities that once made you happy. Depression negatively affects physical health. Talk to your primary care provider if you think you might have depression.
Think the male immune system is stronger than the female? It's not, which is why it is important for men to follow the basics: Don't smoke, limit alcohol, eat a healthy diet, maintain a healthy weight, get physically active, and manage stress.
Don't wait until you're sick to visit your primary care provider. Make an annual appointment to discuss any new concerns, and to have your cholesterol and testosterone levels, blood pressure, and prostate health checked. Most of all, follow your doctor's instructions and ask questions if the advice you're given is unclear.
This information was provided to the Benefits Office by BlueCross BlueShield.