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Men, Get That Physical

Men, Get That Physical

Like a lot of guys, comedian DL Hughley avoids checkups: “My wife knew I was horrified of doctors. [She] said, ‘You haven’t been to the doctor in four years so I set up a physical for you. …since you’re in your 40s you’re going to have a prostate exam. They call it a digital exam.’ I thought it meant a camera!”

Whether you’re like DL and avoid regular checkups or are one of the 45 million Americans who gets one every year, you’re probably confused by the do it/don’t do it recommendations you’ve heard. For instance, a 2012 study in BMJ Open found annual physicals don’t help people avoid death, hospitalizations, anxiety, or even future appointments. But that doesn’t mean they’re a waste of time and money—here’s why. 

  1. Seeing your doctor annually when you are well may aid in future diagnosis and treatment. If you only see your doc when you are “not feeling like yourself,” he or she has nothing to compare to your current condition.
  2. As a well patient, you’ll have an easier time learning how to best communicate with your doc, so you get the attention you deserve. (That’s especially important if, like lots of folks on ACA plans, you’ve recently chosen a new primary care physician).
  3. You can bring in a list of your medications to check if their benefits still outweigh their risks.
  4. You can get health-preserving exams such as a digital rectal exam, a blood pressure check or diabetes screening.

Medically reviewed in December 2019.

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