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. Below are screening guidelines for men ages 18 to 39.
BLOOD PRESSURE SCREENING
- Have your blood pressure checked at least once every 2 years. If the top number (systolic number) is from 120 to 139, or the bottom number (diastolic number) is from 80 to 89 mm Hg, you should have it checked every year.
- If the top number is 130 or greater or the bottom number is 80 or greater, schedule an appointment with your provider to learn how you can reduce your blood pressure.
- If you have diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems, or certain other conditions, you may need to have your blood pressure checked more often, but still at least once a year.
- 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 AND HEART DISEASE PREVENTION
- Recommended starting ages for cholesterol screening are age 35 for men with no known risk factors for coronary heart disease and age 20 for men with known risk factors for coronary heart disease.
- Men with normal cholesterol levels do not need to have the test repeated for 5 years.
- Repeat testing sooner than needed if changes occur in lifestyle (including weight gain and diet).
- If you have diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems, or certain other conditions, you may need to be checked more often.
- If your blood pressure is 130/80mm Hg or higher, your provider may test your blood sugar level for diabetes.
- If you have a body mass index (BMI) greater than 25 and have other risk factors for diabetes, you should be screened. Having a BMI over 25 means that you are overweight. Asian Americans should be screened if their BMI is greater than 23.
- If you have other risk factors for diabetes, such as a first degree relative with diabetes or history of heart disease, your provider will likely screen you for diabetes.
- 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 at least every year if you have diabetes.
- You should get a flu shot each year.
- At or after age 19, you should have a tetanus-diphtheria and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccine once as part of your tetanus-diphtheria vaccines if you did not receive it as an adolescent. You should have a tetanus-diphtheria booster every 10 years.
- You should receive two doses of varicella vaccine if you never had chickenpox or the varicella vaccine.
- You should receive one to two doses of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine if you are not already immune to MMR. Your doctor can tell you if you are immune.
- Your provider may recommend other immunizations if you have certain medical conditions, such as diabetes.
Ask your provider about the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine if you are ages 19 to 26 and you have:
- Not received the HPV vaccine in the past
- Not completed the full vaccine series (you should catch up on this shot)
INFECTIOUS DISEASE SCREENING
- All adults ages 18 to 79 should get a one-time test for hepatitis C.
- Your provider will tell you how to prevent infections spread through sexual contact. These are called sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
- Depending on your lifestyle and medical history, you may need to be screened for infections such as syphilis, chlamydia, and HIV, as well as other infections.
- Your height, weight, and BMI should be checked at every exam.
During your exam, your provider may ask you about:
- 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.
- People at high risk include those who have had skin cancer before, have close relatives with skin cancer, or 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 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 April 18, 2020.
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US Preventive Services Task Force, Bibbins-Domingo K, Grossman DC, et al. Screening for skin cancer: US Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. JAMA. 2016;316(4):429-435. PMID: 27458948 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27458948/.
US Preventive Services Task Force website. Final recommendation statement. Colorectal cancer screening. www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/recommendation/colorectal-cancer-screening. Published June 15, 2016. Accessed April 18, 2020.
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 April 19, 2020.
US Preventive Services Task Force website. Testicular cancer: screening. www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/recommendation/testicular-cancer-screening. Published April 15, 2011. Accessed April 19, 2020.
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Review Date 4/19/2020
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.