Routine physical exams for men are an essential diagnostic tool that allows your doctor to track changes in your body that may indicate an underlying health condition. But unfortunately, males are not inclined to schedule a regular physical examination. Physical exams are necessary because some medical conditions have such a gradual onset that you could miss symptoms. Moreover, some significant health issues display no signs and can go undetected for months or years
Importance Of Physical Exams For Men
A physical exam is your doctor’s way of checking your body for any signs of health conditions you may not even know. Some males first discover that they have a condition that requires medication, such as hypertension, only after receiving a physical exam. By scheduling routine physical examinations, you can address many health concerns before a health crisis occurs. Heart health is also connected to your brain and sexual health. So, a regular trip to the doctor is vital for males who want to keep as fit as possible into their golden years.
What Can You Expect From a Physical Exam for Men
With the Nurse
When you arrive at your doctor’s office, the nurse will briefly check you before seeing your doctor. The nurse may take your blood pressure and your body temperature. The nurses will record the results in your medical file, and your doctor will look these over before proceeding with the examination. They will check your vital signs, height, and weight. You may also provide a urine sample, and the nurse may draw blood for laboratory tests.
With the Doctor
Once in with the doctor, you will discuss your health history, and the doctor may go over any matters they may have based on your medical records. Next, they will also allow you to express the health concerns you may be encountering.
Your doctor will typically ask you about:
- Past medical history
- Prior surgeries
- Family medical history
- Food and medication allergies
- General behavior and lifestyle questions
- Alcohol or drug use
- Exercise habits
- Sexual health
The doctor will take notes about your health while speaking with you. The doctor will be assessing your health by visually observing the condition of your skin, your ability to respond quickly to questions asked, and by keeping alert to any signs you may display that could suggest a potential health concern.
Heart and Lungs
The physical portion of the examination will consist of the doctor using a stethoscope to listen to your heart to check for signs of possible heart disease. They will also listen to your lungs to check for possible signs of lung disease. Your doctor will ask you to breathe in slowly and intensely as they listen to your lungs. The doctor relies on medical instruments to examine your ears, nose, sinuses, tonsils, and throat and ensure they are healthy. They will examine the sinuses, tonsils, teeth, and gums. The doctor will look into your eyes to check for any potential problems.
By palpating your neck, the doctor can determine the condition of your lymph nodes and the size of the thyroid gland. It also allows him to check the carotid arteries for signs of potential problems.
These practical but straightforward tests can help give clues about the general condition of your health and point to any possible abnormalities.
Liver and Bowels
The doctor will ask you to lie down so they can check your abdomen. The doctor will use their hands to apply mild pressure to your stomach to evaluate the liver size and check for tenderness.
Bowel sounds will be listened to via a stethoscope.
They will test proper reflex reactions by tapping the knee area with a bit of a rubber hammer. Your reflex response may prompt the doctor to perform other examinations.
Next, the doctor may examine the testicles and your penis for warts, ulcers, or other infections. The doctor may also examine the area of your prostate, if necessary, by inserting a finger into the rectum. They will check you for hernia signs by coughing while the doctor feels for signs of weakness in the abdominal wall.
Finally, the doctor will check your neurological system and test your muscle strength, orientation, and sensibility.
Usually, as part of a physical exam for men, your doctor may order laboratory tests to check for several common medical conditions. They may do more tests based on the findings of the tests, your medical exam, or items in your medical history.
Screening and diagnostic laboratory tests can include:
- CBC (complete blood count)
- Lipid panel (Cholesterol)
Preparing For Your Physical Exam for Men
Know your medical history
Your doctor will be asking you many questions that relate to your health and general lifestyle, so it would be wise to think about this and prepare for any questions in advance. Have a thorough understanding of your family’s medical history. It is best to be well-prepared when going for your annual physical exam. Your doctor will ask many questions to accurately diagnose the present state of your health. They will need to be well-informed of any possible risks they should check. Providing your doctor with essential facts about your family’s health history will help clue any troubles you may have inherited. Stroke, heart attack, diabetes, and cancer are some examples of conditions that you may have inherited.
Know your medications
Bring a comprehensive list of all prescription and over-the-counter medications that you are taking or lately stopped using. Add to the list any vitamins, dietary supplements, and herbal remedies you are taking. Your doctor relies heavily on the information you provide to help make the best possible determination about the present condition of your health.
Share any health concerns
Bring a record of any complaints or concerns that you want to address. Pay attention to and record how often you are experiencing any symptoms. Share what you were doing before the symptoms started and any external factors contributing to the symptoms, such as foods or medications.
How Often Should Physical Exams Be Scheduled?
As a form of preventive medicine, you should schedule a routine visit once a year to reap the most benefits from your physical exam. A yearly physical allows your doctor to detect changes in your body that may cause concern. Changes may indicate that further treatment is needed to keep you healthy. Sometimes, a simple lifestyle change is required, such as when high cholesterol levels are detected. Other times, they may notice early warning signs that prompt further testing or medical treatment. Scheduling an annual physical examination can be a simple way to avoid serious health concerns. Regular exams performed once per year can alert your doctor to changes in your body that may point to areas of concern. Prescription medications and early treatment can help avert a health crisis.
High-grade medical care is necessary at every age. Still, at different ages, various medical concerns can become more noticeable. The period at which males should have a specific screening test or examination can depend a lot on their family history and lifestyle, but here is a rough guide:
- Starting at age 20, males should start annual testicular and hernia exams.
- At age 35, your doctor may begin checking your thyroid.
- If not done before, at age 40, your doctor may begin checking your cholesterol levels.
- When you approach age 50, you should be getting a routine colonoscopy every ten years. You will also begin having annual blood test screening for prostate cancer.g annual blood test screening for prostate cancer.
Recommendations for ages for first screenings change over the years, so if there is any concern, ask your doctor. Make sure you give your doctor a complete picture of your medical and family history.
Physical exams for men can last 1 to 2 hours from check-in to completion. It is essential to schedule your exam up to a month in advance. Many doctors’ offices will not be able to get you in for a routine physical exam on short notice.
- “Evidence Brief: Role of the Annual Comprehensive Physical Examination in the Asymptomatic Adult” via Evidence Brief: Role of the Annual Comprehensive Physical Examination in the Asymptomatic Adult
- “Checking in on the annual checkup” via Canadian Family Physician
- “Why perform a routine history and physical examination?” via Southern Medical Journal
- “The Physical Examination” via Clinical Methods, 3rd Edition