Few men would drive a beloved sports car into the ground, ruining its engine for lack of routine oil changes, tune-ups or new belts.
Yet many men don’t think twice about neglecting their health, letting a decade or more slip by without scheduling a checkup, says Jeff Cain, president-elect of the American Academy of Family Physicians. One-third of men have no regular doctor, and the same number say they visit a doc only when really sick.
“Men are used to maintaining their cars, but they aren’t used to maintaining themselves,” says Cain, a professor at the University of Colorado-Denver. “But it’s just like taking your car to a regular mechanic: The same doctor who takes care of you when you’re sick can take care of you when you’re well, and hopefully prevent problems down the road.”
Unlike women, however, men aren’t handed a preventive maintenance schedule. Women learn from an early age to schedule a “well woman exam” every year. While young women often seek out these exams to obtain birth control, the visits give doctors a chance to screen for cancer and sexually transmitted infections, as well as provide essential health education, such as about nutrition, exercise and mental health, says Michael LeFevre, co-chair of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a volunteer panel that advises the government. Women stay in the medical system as they age, bear children and go through menopause, frequently connecting not only with their own doctors but with their children’s pediatricians.
Men, on the other hand, may disappear from the patient rolls at age 18, avoiding checkups until age 40 or 50, when they show up for a cancer screening — often at the suggestion of their wives, Cain says.
Yet doctors say there are lots of things that men can do to take care of themselves — both inside and outside of the exam room — at every stage of life.
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article courtesy of USAToday.com