If you’re like a lot of people, you may not make a point to see your doctor unless something is clearly wrong with your health. But there are serious medical issues that can be prevented or managed successfully when you check in with your physician regularly — before anything’s amiss.

This is especially true for men, who have a higher risk for certain health issues like heart attacks. But unfortunately, studies show that men also have a higher resistance to going to the doctor. Here’s why a routine check-up should be at the top of your to-do list, and what to make sure you get checked out when you go.

Get a Baseline of Your Current Health

“One of the most helpful parts of an annual checkup is that it gives our providers the opportunity to establish a baseline for key measures of your health before you’re actually sick,” says Dr. Robert Pepper, primary care physician at Morgan Medical Center. “When checking things like cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and your daily aches and pains, we can get a comprehensive picture of where you are now so we can identify anything that veers from your healthy ‘norm.’ Doing so will allow us to intervene with treatments quickly and effectively.”

Stay on Top of Illness Prevention

Many of the biggest threats to men’s health are preventable. Heart disease, in particular, is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S., but there are early warning signs your doctor can often address before complications evolve.

During routine checkups, we’ll discuss lifestyle factors like diet and exercise, substance use, your sex life, and your personal and family health histories to determine your risk of heart disease, diabetes, STDs, and other illnesses. Blood pressure measurements will be taken, often along with blood sugar, cholesterol, and other blood tests to monitor the health of internal systems you may not be able to see or feel.

Annual check-ups also provide the opportunity to discuss other illness prevention strategies, like annual flu shots and other vaccines you may need to stay healthy, such as the shingles vaccination.

Schedule Screenings

Depending on age and personal risk profile, men should receive screenings for a range of illnesses beginning at the age of 18, and then onward through adulthood. One primary example is prostate cancer, second only to skin cancer as the most common form of cancer in men. Early diagnosis from a prostate cancer screening can yield a 5-year survival rate of nearly 100%. Specific health screenings such as a digital rectal exam (DRE) and/or a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test allow for this success.

Men in their 20s and 30s should continue health checkups at least every three years, and ask their doctor about the need for other specific screenings. For example, deciphering the advice around when to get colon cancer screening can be challenging to do on your own. This is also a great time to ensure you’re conducting self-exams for testicular cancer properly. Other screenings to discuss together include how frequently you need eye exams, and whether tests for other conditions such as hepatitis C or lung cancer are necessary.

Discuss Changes or Abnormalities

Some changes in your body are just a natural aspect of aging. Others could point to an issue that calls for further testing or medical intervention. Your doctor is the only one who can tell for sure, so an annual check-up presents the perfect opportunity to talk honestly about any new developments with your health, and then work together to address them.

At Morgan Medical Center, we’re committed to helping you lead a full, healthy life through quality healthcare, which includes preventive wellness. From routine checkups to the management of chronic illnesses, our family medicine department offers a range of care options to suit your medical needs at every age. To schedule an appointment, call (706) 438-1275.