You should visit your health care provider regularly, even if you feel healthy. The purpose of these visits is to:
- Screen for medical issues
- Assess your risk for future medical problems
- Encourage a healthy lifestyle
- Update vaccinations
- Help you get to know your provider in case of an illness
Even if you feel fine, you should still see your provider for regular checkups. These visits can help you avoid problems in the future. For example, the only way to find out if you have high blood pressure is to have it checked regularly. High blood sugar and high cholesterol level also may not have any symptoms in the early stages. Simple blood tests can check for these conditions.
There are specific times when you should see your provider or receive specific health screenings. The US Preventive Services Task Force publishes a list of recommended screenings. Below are screening guidelines for men ages 18 to 39.
BLOOD PRESSURE SCREENING
Your blood pressure should be checked at least once every 3 to 5 years if:
- Your blood pressure is in the normal range (top number less than 120 mm Hg and bottom number less than 80 mm Hg)
- You don't have risk factors for high blood pressure
Your blood pressure should be checked every year if any of the following are true:
- The top number is from 120 to 129 mm Hg or the bottom number is from 70 to 79 mm Hg
- You have diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems, are overweight, or have certain other health conditions
- You have a first-degree relative with high blood pressure
- You are Black
- You had high blood pressure during a pregnancy
If the top number is 130 mm Hg or greater or the bottom number is 80 mm Hg or greater, this is considered stage 1 hypertension. Schedule an appointment with your provider to learn how you can reduce your blood pressure.
Watch for blood pressure screenings in your neighborhood or workplace. Ask your provider if you can stop in to have your blood pressure checked.
Cholesterol screening should begin at:
- Age 45 for men with no known risk factors for coronary heart disease
- Age 20 for men with known risk factors for coronary heart disease
Repeat cholesterol screening should take place:
- Every 5 years for men with normal cholesterol levels
- More often if changes occur in lifestyle (including weight gain and diet)
- More often if you have diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems, or certain other conditions
You should be screened for diabetes starting at age 35 and then repeated every 3 years if you have no risk factors for diabetes.
Screening may need to start earlier and be repeated more often if you have other risk factors for diabetes, such as:
- You have a first degree relative with diabetes.
- You are overweight or have obesity.
- You have high blood pressure, prediabetes, or a history of heart disease.
- Go to the dentist once or twice every year for an exam and cleaning. Your dentist will evaluate if you have a need for more frequent visits.
- If you have vision problems, have an eye exam every 2 years, or more often if recommended by your provider.
- Have an eye exam that includes an examination of your retina (back of your eye) at least every year if you have diabetes.
Commonly needed vaccines include:
- Flu shot: get one every year.
- Tetanus-diphtheria and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccine: have one at or after age 19 as one of your tetanus-diphtheria vaccines if you did not receive it as an adolescent.
- Tetanus-diphtheria: have a booster (or Tdap) every 10 years.
- Varicella vaccine: receive two doses if you never had chickenpox or the varicella vaccine.
- Hepatitis B vaccine: receive 2, 3, or 4 doses, depending on your exact circumstances.
- Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine: receive one to two doses if you are not already immune to MMR. Your doctor can tell you if you are immune
Ask your provider about the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine if you have:
- Not received the HPV vaccine in the past
- Not completed the full vaccine series (you should catch up on this shot)
Ask your provider if you should receive other immunizations if you have certain medical conditions, such as diabetes or are at increased risk for some diseases such as pneumonia.
INFECTIOUS DISEASE SCREENING
- All adults ages 18 to 79 should get a one-time test for hepatitis C.
- All people ages 15 to 65 should get a one-time test for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
- Depending on your lifestyle and medical history, you may need to be screened for infections such as syphilis, chlamydia, and other infections.
All adults should visit their provider from time to time, even if they are healthy. The purpose of these visits is to:
- Screen for diseases
- Assess risk of future medical problems
- Encourage a healthy lifestyle
- Update vaccinations
- Maintain a relationship with a provider in case of an illness
Your height, weight, and BMI should be checked at every exam.
During your exam, your provider may ask you about:
- Depression and anxiety
- Diet and exercise
- Alcohol and tobacco use
- Safety, such as use of seat belts and smoke detectors
- The US Preventive Services Task Force recommends against performing testicular self-exam. Doing testicular exams has been shown to have little to no benefit.
- Your provider may check your skin for signs of skin cancer, especially if you're at high risk, such as if you have had skin cancer before.
- Have close relatives with skin cancer.
- Have a weakened immune system.
- Talk with your provider about colon cancer screening if you have a strong family history of colon cancer or polyps, or if you have had inflammatory bowel disease or polyps yourself.
Health maintenance visit - men - ages 18 to 39; Physical exam - men - ages 18 to 39; Yearly exam - men - ages 18 to 39; Checkup - men - ages 18 to 39; Men's health - ages 18 to 39; Preventive care exam - men - ages 18 to 39
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American Academy of Ophthalmology website. Policy statement: Frequency of ocular examinations - 2015. www.aao.org/clinical-statement/frequency-of-ocular-examinations. Updated March 2015. Accessed August 9, 2022.
American Dental Association website. Your top 9 questions about going to the dentist - answered. www.mouthhealthy.org/en/dental-care-concerns/questions-about-going-to-the-dentist. Accessed August 9, 2022.
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US Preventive Services Task Force website. A and B recommendations. www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/recommendation-topics/uspstf-a-and-b-recommendations. Accessed August 9, 2022.
US Preventive Services Task Force website. Final recommendation statement. Colorectal cancer: Screening. www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/recommendation/colorectal-cancer-screening. Published May 18, 2021. Accessed August 9, 2022.
US Preventive Services Task Force website. Final recommendation statement. Hepatitis C virus infection in adolescents and adults: Screening. www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/recommendation/hepatitis-c-screening. Published March 2, 2020. Accessed August 9, 2022.
US Preventive Services Task Force website. Final recommendation statement. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection: Screening. www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/recommendation/human-immunodeficiency-virus-hiv-infection-screening. Published June 11, 2019. Accessed August 9, 2022.
US Preventive Services Task Force website. Hypertension in adults: Screening. www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/recommendation/hypertension-in-adults-screening. Published April 27, 2021. Accessed August 9, 2022.
US Preventive Services Task Force website. Prediabetes and type 2 diabetes: Screening. www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/recommendation/screening-for-prediabetes-and-type-2-diabetes. Published August 24, 2021. Accessed August 9, 2022.
US Preventive Services Task Force website. Skin cancer: Screening. www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/recommendation/skin-cancer-screening. Updated April 18, 2023. Accessed April 21, 2023.
US Preventive Services Task Force website. Testicular cancer: Screening. www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/recommendation/testicular-cancer-screening. Published April 15, 2011. Accessed August 9, 2022.
Whelton PK, Carey RM, Aronow WS, et al. 2017 ACC/AHA/AAPA/ABC/ACPM/AGS/APhA/ASH/ASPC/NMA/PCNA Guideline for the prevention, detection, evaluation, and management of high blood pressure in adults: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Clinical Practice Guidelines [published correction appears in J Am Coll Cardiol. 2018 May 15;71(19):2275-2279]. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2018;71(19):e127-e248. PMID: 29146535 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29146535/.
Review Date 4/30/2022
Updated by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. Editorial update 04/18/2023.