Men’s Health Month

mens health month

June is Men’s Health Awareness Month, and I thought reviewing self-examinations for men would be fitting. After all, most people have heard about self-exams for women, but many men are not familiar with any self-exams that they should be doing regularly as well. Performing these simple 7 self-exams regularly can help with early diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. 

 

1. Belly Fat Check 

Why: According to the American Diabetes Association, measuring waist circumference could be the single most important self-exam for men. A waist circumference greater than 37 inches increases your risk of heart disease, some cancers, sleep apnea, diabetes, and high blood pressure. 

How: Place a tape measure around your stomach, at the level of your belly button (make sure the measuring tape is over bare skin). If your waist measures more than 37 inches you should speak with your healthcare provider about losing those few extra inches. 

How Often: Monthly 

 

2. Heart Rate Check 

Why: Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the American Heart Association checking your pulse is a good way to monitor for potential heart rhythm abnormalities, such as atrial fibrillation. 

How: While sitting down in a relaxed position place your first 2 fingers on your opposite wrist at the base, feeling for a pulsation. Count the number of beats or pulsations you feel in 1 minute. Also, pay attention to the timing of each beat/pulsation, if the overall pace or rhythm is irregular it could be a sign of an abnormal heart rhythm or arrhythmia. A normal heart rate is 60-100 beats per minute, if your heart rate falls outside of this range or if you note an irregular pulse contact your healthcare provider as you make require additional testing. 

How Often: At least once a month. 

 

3. Blood Pressure Monitoring 

Why: High blood pressure has been termed “silent killer” by the American Heart Association (AHA), as most of the time it is not associated with obvious symptoms. Untreated high blood pressure is a contributing factor to heart attacks and strokes according to the AHA. Early detection can lead to treatment and potential reversal. 

How: Invest in an easy-to-use home blood pressure monitor and check your blood pressure once daily. Sit in a resting position for at least 5 minutes before checking your blood pressure. Keep a daily log, and if you notice a consistently elevated blood pressure above 120/80 mmHg contact your healthcare provider. 

How Often: Once daily. 

 

4. Testicular Cancer Screening

Why: Testicular cancer is most commonly found in men 20-34 years old, however, it can occur at any age. By doing regular self-exams one can detect palpable abnormalities which can lead to prompt diagnosis and treatment if warranted.

How: While holding your penis forward, roll your testicles between your thumb and fingers. Feel for lumps or abnormalities. Any abnormalities found should be reported to your healthcare provider. 

How Often: Monthly 

 

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5. Oral Health 

Why: According to the American Cancer Society oral cancer is more than twice as common in men than women. Oral and oropharyngeal cancers most often occur on the tongue, tonsils, oropharynx, gums, the floor of the mouth, and other parts of the mouth.  

How: Inspect your mouth using a mirror. Look for any changes such as white patches, sores, or lumps. Inform your healthcare provider/dentist if you note any abnormalities. 

How Often: Monthly 

 

6. Skin Cancer Screening 

Why: Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, and melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer. After age 50 men are more likely to develop melanomas than women according to the American Academy of Dermatology, by 65 men are twice as likely to get melanomas compared to women of the same age. The survival rates of melanoma in men are lower when compared to women. Early detection can increase survival rates. 

How: It is best to perform your skin self-exam in a well-lit room using a full-length mirror. Examine your skin starting from top to bottom. Pay attention to any new, expanding, or changing growths, bumps, spots, moles. Report abnormalities to your healthcare provider. 

How Often: Monthly 

 

7. Breast Cancer Screening 

Why: Breast cancer is most common in women, however, men can get breast cancer too. Men do not get annual screening tests like women, so it is important to perform monthly self-breast exams after age 60, especially if you have a family history of breast cancer. 

How: Start by standing in front of a mirror with your hands on your hips, visually inspect your breasts looking for any changes, lumps, or nipple abnormalities. Next, raise your arms above your head and continue to evaluate your breasts and armpit areas. Then run your fingers over breasts and armpit region feeling for bumps or lumps. If you note any findings report them to your healthcare provider. 

How Often: Monthly starting at age 60 

 

 

To learn more about staying healthy and fit click here.

 

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