22/11/2021

The Ultimate Guide to Preventive Care for Men

While you can control your genetics, taking charge of your overall health can help lower your risk of developing many conditions down the line.

Some men have the misconception that if they seem healthy, they don’t need to visit a doctor. But getting regular checkups and health screenings can catch many diseases in the early stages or before they develop. 

This guide will give you the rundown on the types of preventive care you can receive to keep you healthy at each stage of your life.

Preventive care starting in your 20s and 30s

Generally speaking, men in their 20s and 30s have fewer health issues than older men. Building healthy habits when you’re young can help you decrease your odds of developing health problems when you get older.

Healthy habits to add to your regimen may include:

  • using a condom or other barrier method during sex
  • minimizing stress and getting plenty of rest
  • wearing sunscreen and minimizing sun exposure
  • limiting alcohol to no more than two drinks per day
  • avoiding smoking, secondhand smoke, and tobacco
  • maintaining a moderate weight
  • avoiding activities with a high risk of injury, such as extreme sports
  • always wearing a seatbelt when in a vehicle

Even if you don’t have any known health concerns, it’s still a good idea to visit a doctor for regular checkups. Most people under age 50 should get a medical checkup at least once every 3 years.

During a checkup, the doctor will check things like your:

Many young men are living with anxietydepression, or other mental health conditions. If you’ve been experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition, it’s also a good idea to talk with a doctor about an evaluation.

Many men become sexually active during their teen years or in their 20s. Get tested for sexually transmitted infections if you’ve had sex without a condom or other barrier method, especially with a new partner.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everybody between ages 13 to 64 should get at least one routine HIV test. People with frequent partner changes should get tested more often. 

Questions you might ask your doctor

  • Am I a moderate weight for my height?
  • Do I have a high chance of developing any future health issues?
  • Is there anything I can do to improve my overall health?
  • Are there any specific screening tests or vaccines I should get?

Screening tests

  • Eye exam. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that people with healthy vision should have a complete eye exam once in their 20s and twice in their 30s. Visit your ophthalmologist more often if you’re having problems with your eyesight.
  • High blood pressure screening. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends adults ages 18 to 39 get screened for high blood pressure every 3 to 5 years.
  • Dental checkup. Get a complete dental checkup at least every 2 years, as recommended by a 2020 study.
  • Testicular cancer screening. No standard screening guidelines exist for testicular cancer, but the National Cancer InstituteTrusted Source says it’s the most common cancer diagnosed in men ages 15 to 34. It’s important to make an appointment with your doctor if you have testicles and notice any changes in their size or shape.
  • Cholesterol screening. The CDCTrusted Source recommends that people who are 20 years and older and at low risk for cardiovascular disease get their cholesterol checked every 5 years. If you have a high risk, get tested more often.
  • Hepatitis C screening. The CDCTrusted Source recommends adults over age 18 get screened for hepatitis C at least once in their life.

Vaccines

  • HPV vaccine. The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine can protect you against genital warts and certain cancers caused by HPV. The CDC recommends that everybody under the age of 26Trusted Source get vaccinated for HPV, ideally before having sex for the first time.
  • Tdap vaccine. The Tdap vaccine protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough). The CDCTrusted Source recommends the Tdap vaccine for adults who didn’t receive the vaccine as adolescents. They also recommend getting a booster dose every 10 years or 5 years if you have a severe wound.
  • Influenza vaccine. The CDCTrusted Source recommends all people over 6 months old get an annual flu shot, with few exceptions.
  • COVID-19 vaccine. It’s a good idea for anybody eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine. COVID-19 vaccines drastically decrease your chances of getting COVID-19 or developing severe disease.
  • Varicella vaccine. According to the CDCTrusted Source, people who are 13 years or older and never had chickenpox should get 2 doses of the varicella vaccine at least 28 days apart.
  • MMR vaccine. The CDCTrusted Source recommends that all teenagers without evidence of immunity against measles, mumps, or rubella should get the MMR vaccine.

Preventive care in your 40s

When you take advantage of regular checkups, a doctor can help you assess your risk of future medical problems. They’ll also screen you for medical issues you may not know you have.

With weight gain being more common in your 40s, you may be more likely to develop health conditions such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Continuing healthy habits like exercising regularly and eating a balanced diet can help prevent these conditions.

Questions you might ask your doctor

  • Is my blood pressure within a healthy range?
  • Are my blood glucose and lipid levels typical?
  • Is my heart healthy?
  • Do I need any additional screening tests?

Screening tests

  • Colon cancer screening. The CDCTrusted Source recommends regular screening for colorectal cancer starting at age 45. If you have a heightened risk, like a family history, get tested earlier.
  • Diabetes screening. The USPSTF recommends screening for type 2 diabetes in adults ages 35 to 70 who are overweight and repeating the test every 3 years if your blood glucose levels are healthy.
  • Blood pressure screening. The USPSTF recommends that adults over age 40 get screened annually for high blood pressure.

Preventive care in your 50s

Most people need to connect with a healthcare professional more often in their 50s than when they were younger. Generally, visit a doctor at least once per year for a routine checkup, even if you don’t have any specific health concerns.

When you’re in your 50s, many types of cancer become more common and your immune system may not work as well as it used to. Getting all your necessary vaccines and taking steps to avoid infection can help you stay healthier longer.

Questions you might ask your doctor

  • What are the pros and cons of taking medications to control high blood pressure?
  • Should I be getting screened for prostate cancer with a prostate-specific antigen test (PSA)?
  • What can I do to help manage my weight?

Screening tests and vaccines

  • Shingles vaccine. The CDCTrusted Source recommends that adults over age 50 take 2 doses of the Shingrix vaccine 2 to 6 months apart to prevent shingles.
  • Prostate cancer. The USPSTFTrusted Source recommends that men ages 55 to 69 talk with a doctor about being screened for prostate cancer with a PSA test.

Preventive care in your 60s

It’s common for men to have trouble maintaining a moderate weight as they get older. Continuing with healthy exercise and dietary habits is still necessary. But a slower metabolism might make attaining your weight goals harder.

Many men over age 60 also have some degree of hearing or sight loss. If you find you’re having trouble hearing or seeing, it’s a good idea to visit an ear or eye doctor for an exam.

The CDCTrusted Source currently lists heart disease as the leading cause of death in the United States. Your risk of heart disease increases with age, but keeping your cholesterol and blood pressure under control can help reduce your chances of developing it.

Questions you might ask your doctor

  • Am I at risk of developing heart disease, and what can I do to lower my chances of developing it?
  • Are there any medications I should take to lower my risk of heart disease?
  • What dietary changes can I make to improve my overall health?

Screening tests and vaccines

Preventive care in your 70s and beyond

Men age 70 and over tend to have weaker immune systems than younger men, so it becomes even more important to get your annual flu shot.

While men typically have a lower risk of developing osteoporosis than women, the National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends that men over age 70 get a bone density test.

Questions you might ask your doctor

  • What can I do to lower my chances of infection?
  • What can I do to increase my bone mineral density?
  • How much should I be exercising?

Finding affordable preventive care

The Affordable Care Act requires all insurance companies to cover preventive health services recommended by the USPSTF without a deductible or copayment unless your plan is grandfathered in.

If you don’t have insurance, you can find low-cost healthcare at community health clinics in your area. You can search for community health clinics here.

The bottom line

While you can’t control your genetics, you can reduce your risk of developing many diseases by getting all your recommended health screenings and vaccines. Even if you’re healthy, it’s a good idea to visit a healthcare professional regularly for checkups.

Men under age 50 with no particular health issues may only need to get a checkup once every 2 to 3 years. It’s generally a good idea for older men to visit a doctor at least once each year for routine tests.

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