The week leading up to Father’s Day is Men’s Health Week. One of the biggest issues when it comes to men’s health is that it just isn’t taken seriously. I realized this while I was spending time with some of my guy friends one day.
The group of friends I was with all work at a warehouse. They fit the stereotypical “dude” type that would rather wrap some duct tape and a few popsicle sticks around a broken finger instead of going to the doctor.
You can take control of your health at any age!
One of them was talking about a recent checkup he had. We are all in our early 20s and we’re reaching that turning point where our physical exams get a bit more … well, physical. He mentioned that he had a prostate exam and STD screening, and the rest of the guys in my group teased him about it. It was all in good fun, but a moment later it struck me that they were all making jokes about an examination that could potentially save his life.
I have overheard my female friends discuss things like seeing an ob/gyn or getting a physical exam, and while they occasionally joke about it, they do it in a very lighthearted manner that couldn’t possibly leave anyone embarrassed.
While my guy friends’ jokes themselves were not harmful, they indicated an attitude of dismissal that leaves them far less likely than women to see a doctor for preventive care and regular checkups. That’s a huge problem, because if my friend would have had that attitude then he could have been potentially walking around with prostate cancer, or an untreated STD that could lead to sterilization or even death.
No matter what age or gender you are, you can protect your health by:
- getting regularly screened for STDs, if you’re sexually active
- quitting smoking
- drinking in moderation, if you drink
- eating a healthy diet
- avoiding stress
- engaging in regular physical activity
- taking care of your mental health
- seeing a dentist regularly
- making sure you’re up to date with your vaccinations, whether you’re a minor or an adult
Furthermore, if you’re a teenage boy or young man, you can take charge of your health by:
- learning how to use condoms correctly
- getting vaccinated against genital warts and HPV-associated cancers if you are 21 or younger (gay and bisexual men can receive Gardasil up to age 26)
- getting cholesterol screening every five years, starting at age 35 (or starting at age 20 if you have heart disease or risk factors for heart disease)
- getting regular checkups, just to ensure you’re in tip-top shape
If you’re a little older, you’ll need to add a few more items to your checklist to keep yourself in good health. These things include:
- regular prostate screening starting from age 40 to 50, depending on your risk factors
- regular colorectal cancer screening, starting at age 50 and continuing at least to age 75 (earlier if you have a family history of colorectal cancer)
- diabetes screening every three years, starting at age 45 (that goes for women, too!)
We take the health of everybody very seriously at Planned Parenthood Arizona, and we encourage all of the men in Arizona to take some time during Men’s Health Week to make an appointment and make sure your health is on track.