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Navigating Healthcare

By Diane L. Marolla, LICSW

Recently, I was asked by a consumer to write about men’s health, specifically prostate health. Before I did my research, I thought about the topic of men’s health a great deal. In all the health-related news feeds that I get daily, I rarely see this covered. I thought, was I just ignoring the subject or is men’s health not talked about enough? As I always do when I prepare for writing this monthly article, I went straight to the research, and here is what I found:

According to menshealthcongress.com, men are 24% less likely than women to have visited a doctor within the past year.
Also according to menshealthcongress.com, heart disease is the number one killer of men. Cancer is number two.
According to statista.com, mental health issues are also common among men. Suicide is the number seven leading cause of death.
Women on average live longer than men.

As I thought about the topic of men’s health more, I thought of how I manage my own health. I see a woman doctor whose practice specializes in seeing only women. I have always been focused on taking care of myself, ensuring that my pap smears and pelvic exams are done. Because I am at risk for breast cancer (my mother died from complications of breast cancer in 1992 at the age of 65), I ensure that I get my mammograms faithfully. I am in tune with the topic of osteoporosis and how to prevent it. In terms of exercise (which I feel I don’t do enough of), I continue to work with a personal trainer on strength training. I see my Primary Care Physician faithfully every year. I am honest with her about anything that has changed (in fact, I make a list for her every year so that I don’t forget anything). I talk to my friends and compare notes. I also read on the topic of women’s health all the time.

To the men reading this article, my questions to you are: How do you manage your health? Is it something that you feel you are well versed in? Do you feel comfortable talking about your health with friends and family? Do you have a doctor?

If the answer to these questions is no, here are some easy tips for you to start thinking more about your health:

If you don’t have a Primary Care Physician (PCP), be sure to get one as soon as possible. If you need recommendations regarding who is accepting new patients, and who takes your health insurance, call your insurance company or go to their website. All insurance companies have provider listings on line. Any provider who is listed on a health insurance company website has to take new patients. If you call an office, and they say they are not taking new patients, be sure to contact your insurance company immediately and tell them.
Make sure you see your PCP annually. Talk to your doctor honestly about how you are feeling physically and mentally. Do not be embarrassed to talk with them. Trust me, they have heard everything, and they are in the business of taking care of people.
No matter if you are young or old, male or female, key components to a healthy life include getting enough sleep, maintaining a healthy diet, exercising, and minimizing stress.
Be honest with your doctor about your mental health. Do you feel depressed? Are you drinking too much? Your doctor will ask you these questions. If you come home from work every night and have to drink three beers before you go to bed, be sure to discuss this with your doctor.

Whereas women pay extra attention to their breast and reproductive health, men, you have a prostate to take care of. Your prostate is a gland that is part of your reproductive system. As you age, it can get larger and can cause urination and sexual problems. According to WebMD, 8 out of 10 men develop an enlarged prostate and 30% of men will find symptoms bothersome.

According to The American Cancer Society, 1 in 9 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. It is the second most common cancer among men, after skin cancer, and the second leading cause of cancer death in American men, behind lung cancer. If you are having problems urinating, be sure to discuss this with your doctor. Treatment options for prostate-related issues range from lifestyle changes to medications or surgery. Additionally, your doctor can use a variety of tests to diagnose the root cause of your problems. For additional information regarding men’s health topics and prostate health:

Healthfinder.gov
Webmd.com
Menshealth.com
Urologyhealth.org
Menshealthresourcecenter.com

www.cancer.org/content/dam/CRC/PDF/Public/8793.00.pdf