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Body Shop

By: Susan Ramsett
By: Susan Ramsett

If a flashing light goes off in a man's car, chances are he'll take it in for service right away, but when a warning sign goes off in his body he may ignore it. Women on the other hand, seem to be much more in tune with their bodies and more likely to head to the doctor if they suspect a problem.

There are a number of theories on why men are more reluctant to seek care. One is that they are socialized to believe that it's not "manly" to admit pain or ask for help. Many will tell you they are embarrassed to talk about problems, especially when it comes to sexual health. It can be for financial reasons, a general lack of understanding their own bodies, or not being aware of the signs that something might be wrong. No matter what the reason, a reluctance to seek care can cost men dearly in terms of their health.

All of the health professionals I interviewed agree, the way to a man's health may be through the woman in his life. So, how do we get the men we care about to take the same approach to their bodies as they do their cars?
Here are some Seven On Your Side tips:

1. UNDERSTAND THE MALE APPROACH TO HEALTH. Before you can help, you need to learn about the common male feelings of fear, embarrassment, and above all invincibility. Many men have trouble sharing their health concerns with their doctor. You can start by encouraging your partner to talk to you, and let him know it's safe to discuss his concerns and emotions.

2. SHARE WHAT YOU LEARN. After you talk to your partner about his health, do what you can to learn more about what's troubling him. Share any helpful information you find online, in magazines, or in newspapers.

3. WATCH FOR SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS. If you see any indication of illness, encourage him to have it checked out right away.

4. RESEARCH HIS FAMILY HISTORY. Before he visits the doctor, find out what health problems run in his family. This can help his physician determine his risk factors for a number of illnesses, and take preventative measures to stop a problem before it gets serious.

5. GATHER CHECK-UP/SCREENING INFORMATION.
Find out how often men should visit the doctor, depending on their age, family history, and risk factors.

6. WRITE A LIST OF QUESTIONS. The average woman asks her doctor four questions during an appointment. The average man asks none. You can help him open up by starting a list of concerns he should discuss during his visit.

7. GO TO HIS APPOINTMENT WITH HIM. This will ensure he gets there, and can help him communicate clearly with his physician, at least until he feels more comfortable. This will also allow you to share concerns he may not mention. By listening in, you can also help you partner follow the doctor's recommendations, and track your partner's progress.

8. ENCOURAGE A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE. Changes in diet, exercise, and unhealthy habits last longer when couples make them together.

Here are the recommendations on screenings and regular exams for men who are NOT experiencing any symptoms of illness or changes in their health. The information is from the website www.malehealthcenter.com. Ask your doctor for individual recommendations.

MEASURES FOR MEN

Complete Physical Exam:
age 20-39: every three years
age 40-49: every one or two years
age 50-up: every year

Blood Pressure:
every year

Tuberculosis:
age 20-39: every 5 years

Blood and Urine Tests:
age 20-39: every three years
age 40-49: every one or two years
age 50-up: every year

Electrocardiogram:
age 50-up: every 3-5 years
-or- after 30 if at high risk for heart attacks

Tetanus Booster:
every 10 years

Rectal Exam:
age 40-up: every year

PSA Blood Test:
age 50-up: every year
-or- after 40 if at high risk

Hemoccult:
age 40-up: every year

Sigmoidoscopy:
age 50-up: every 3-4 years
If you're at high risk, you should have a colonoscopy at age 40.


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