DIY Health Checks for Men

DIY Health Checks for Men

Take your health into your own hands.

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By Patrick Sullivan

For men who hate going to the doctor, there’s bad news and good news. The bad news? You still have to see your doctor. The good news? There are some health checks you can perform at home with nothing but your eyes and hands. Read on for 4 do-it-yourself health exams.

Testicle Exam

2 / 5 Testicle Exam

Testicular cancer diagnoses have been on the rise for several decades. It’s rare to die of testicular cancer, but you need to know what to look for in order to catch it early. You should be checking your testicles for lumps in the shower about once a month following the onset of puberty. Roll each testicle gently between your fingers and thumb, looking for lumps or changes in size and shape. Remember: it’s normal for one testicle to hang lower or be larger than the other.

Mole Check

3 / 5 Mole Check

The American Cancer Society estimates that nearly 20,000 more men than women will be diagnosed with melanoma by the end of 2016, and twice the number of men than women will die from it. It’s important to perform a skin self-exam once a month. Grab a hand mirror and check each mole for the ABCDEs: Is it asymmetrical? Does it have an irregular border? Does it have more than one color? Does it have a larger diameter than a pencil eraser? Has it evolved or changed since the last time you looked at it? Also look for any new spots, and any spots that itch, bleed or don’t heal. If you notice any of these signs, see your doctor right away.

Sit-and-Reach Test

4 / 5 Sit-and-Reach Test

You probably haven’t done the sit-and-reach test since middle school gym class, but this self-exam isn’t just about flexibility—it can provide insight into your cardiovascular health, too. The test is simple: sit on the ground with your legs straight in front of you and try to touch your toes. A study of more than 500 people in the American Journal of Physiology Heart and Circulatory Physiology found that middle-aged and older people with poor flexibility (according to this test) had more arterial stiffness. Arterial stiffness—the arteries’ reduced ability to expand and contract—increases with age and is a component in heart disease, the number one killer of men.

Breast Exam

5 / 5 Breast Exam

Yes, men can get breast cancer, too, but male breast cancer cases make up less than 1 percent of cases. Men with family history of the disease, certain genetic mutations, high levels of estrogen or those who have been exposed to radiation are at risk for breast cancer. Check your breasts by pressing firmly in small circles, moving from the outside to inside. You’re looking for hard lumps and changes of size, shape and appearance. Survival rates for men are similar to rates in women, but for many men, diagnosis comes at a late stage, simply because men don’t expect to develop breast cancer.