It's important for men to go for regular health check-ups and not skimp on self-care. Picture: Supplied
It's important for men to go for regular health check-ups and not skimp on self-care. Picture: Supplied

Essential health checks for men

By Viwe Ndongeni Time of article published Jun 11, 2018

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It's more common to see women making doctor’s visits compared to their male counterparts.

Experts have noted that as men age, they tend to develop a fear of medical tests, including the vital ones that they should have regularly.

A 2016 study in the BMC suggested that 61% of men steered clear of regular health check-up visits, missing an opportunity for preventative health care discussions and early interventions.

June is Men’s Health Month - a time that encourages men to focus on self-care and a healthy lifestyle, and experts advise that men should use this time to seek medical care.

Dr Rudi Hayden, a urologist at The Urologist Hospital in Pretoria, emphasises that it’s important for all men to have regular check-ups to encourage early detection of diseases, mostly fuelled by unhealthy lifestyles such as hypertension, diabetes and certain cancers.

“Not all diseases are evident one may have a serious condition without noticing it,” said Hayden.

Dr Asheen Haripersad, a physician from Life Kingsbury Hospital in Claremont, said the biggest hindrance that keeps men from going to the doctor is denial.

“Men think just because they are young and look healthy that they are immune from illness but it’s not like that they need to see the doctor,” said Haripersad.

Here are some of the medical checks that men are advised to go for according to age:

Men under 20

Hayden advises knowing your HIV status. “Whilst HIV is not curable, treatment may help control the disease and reduce the risk of opportunistic infections and cancers.”

Secondly, check your testicles. “If you have undescended testis or testes, you are at higher risk of developing testicular cancer. If the one testis is smaller than the other, especially if the left is smaller than the right, you may have varicose veins in the scrotum that could affect your fertility.

Testicular cancer may also develop in this age group.

He also recommends that men should vaccinate against human papillomavirus (HPV), which can cause cancer among men.

Men under 40

Haripersad said it is important for men at this age to maintain regular check-ups as early treatment greatly improves one’s lifestyle.

Your routine check should include high blood pressure and diabetes tests or checks of family diseases. Doing corrective measures, such as regular exercise or eating right, can help as well.

Hayden suggests that one should consult their doctor if they are experiencing erectile dysfunction. It may indicate blood vessel disease that could affect your heart later in life.

Over 50

At this age, Hayden suggests having your urine checked for blood, especially if you have a history of smoking. Early detection of bladder cancer or kidney disease may be facilitated by investigating blood in the urine further.

However, only a small minority of people having invisible blood in their urine have a urinary tract cancer or kidney disease.

According to Dr Greg Boustead, a urologist at Netcare Chris Barnard Memorial Hospital, prostate cancer is the leading cancer in males.

“If you are a black African male, you are also at increased risk of prostate cancer,” said Boustead.

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