Skip to main content

Military Health System

Important Notice about Pharmacy Operations

Change Healthcare Cyberattack Impact on MHS Pharmacy Operations. Read the statement to learn more. 

Men’s health focus on the mental, physical & emotional health aspects

Image of Military personnel during physical training . Recruits with Charlie Company, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, executed a formation run and multiple exercise stations during physical training on Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C. May 19, 2021 (Photo by: Marine Sgt. Dana Beesley).

As the nation bears through another year under COVID-19 pandemic, we reminded that mental, physical and emotional health are all aspects.

Again this June, the Defense Health Agency focuses on men's overall health centered on screenings and other evaluations; and lifestyle choices, including tobacco and alcohol use. But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's most recent National Health Interview Survey , men are far more likely than women to go two years or longer without seeing a physician or other health care professional.

Experts don't necessarily think men are healthier than women. Rather, men may be avoiding making medical appointments.

"I think a lot of us may have that tough man syndrome, the overall machismo mentality that whatever it is, I can power through it," said Air Force Maj. (Dr.) Matthew Hawks, assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland.

But regular appointments have proven vital for the prevention, detection, and early treatment of illness and disease. So what are men waiting for? Whether making a virtual or in-person appointment, here are some tips for preparing to talk with a health care provider.

Learn your family health history

Family health history may influence a man's risk of developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and certain types of cancer, according to the CDC. Health care providers can assess risk factors and recommend specific screening tests.

For example, men ages 18 to 35 should have their blood pressure measured every three to five years, Hawks said. But those with a family history of high blood pressure may require more frequent screenings. And while screening for colorectal cancer usually begins at age 45 or 50, "If you had a parent who had colorectal cancer before the age of 60, we start screening sooner," Hawks said.

Make a list of questions and concerns

Are you feeling pain, dizziness, or fatigue? Are you having trouble sleeping? Take note of when you first recognized any changes. The CDC recommends leaving space between each observation to record the health care provider's comments and recommendations.

Hawks said men also may want to consider these questions: "What's changed in your life? What's going well, or not going well?" He also recommends asking loved ones if they've noticed anything that should be brought up at a medical appointment.

"Some of the literature suggests that one of the most common reasons men make medical appointments is because their spouse or significant other tells them that they should," Hawks said.

Vow to be open and honest

Men should be forthcoming about everything, including their use of prescription and over-the-counter medications, alcohol, and tobacco and vaping products. Providing complete and accurate information enables providers to offer the best guidance, Hawks said. For example, men with any smoking history should get an abdominal aortic aneurysm screening at age 65.

Don't forget about sexual health

"We obviously encourage safe sexual practices," Hawks said, to avoid sexually transmitted infections. "If men are ever concerned they've been exposed to something, especially if they're having unprotected sex with multiple partners, they should consider coming in to get evaluated."

The vaccine for human papilloma virus, or HPV, decreases the risk of several types of cancers as well as genital warts, Hawks said. Standard practice recommends testing for males 26 and younger. Men ages 27 to 45 should speak with a physician to see if the vaccine is appropriate for them, Hawks added.

Erectile dysfunction can represent another sexual health issue. Hawks said about 50% of men 40 and older will experience ED at some point in their lives. "Younger men may experience it more than we know because they're embarrassed to come in and talk about it," Hawks said, adding that it may be a marker for heart disease. Regardless, "There are medical therapies that can be very helpful," he said. "So it's worthwhile to see a provider."

Hawks said men who plan for their appointment will likely feel more confident, not only about the meeting but also, their future. "Taking positive control of your heath is an important factor in longevity," Hawks said.

You also may be interested in...

Publication
Jul 14, 2022

Patient Self-Management for Depression

.PDF | 390.66 KB

You can do several things to help yourself feel better, even when you’re not at your best. Start by selecting one of the activities from this list. Remember to take it slowly and add new things as you begin to feel better. (Make copies of this worksheet, and review it weekly with your mental health provider or a trusted family member or friend to ...

Publication
Jun 23, 2021

Can We Talk? Infographic

.PDF | 2.60 MB

If you're concerned about a loved one, friend or coworker, use this infographic to help you start the conversation and encourage them to seek care.

Publication
Jun 23, 2021

Military Health Resources Infographic

.PDF | 1.39 MB

Learn the different ways to seek care and take the first step. Managing the stress of military life can affect the toughest warrior. Find the resource to best fit your needs.

Last Updated: September 28, 2023
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on X Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery