Your Annual Physical And A Revealing Look At Why It’s Important

Why men avoid the annual physical

Avoiding the annual physical is mostly rooted in the fear of hearing something you don’t want to. The best way to avoid hearing bad news is to not look for it, right? It’s like when you turn the radio louder in your car so you don’t hear your squeaking brakes. Problem solved right? This is a terrible idea on both fronts because you can be doing more damage than good for your brakes and your health.

Why you shouldn’t skip an annual physical

Your annual physical is the chance to get an analysis of your health and set your benchmark. The annual physical only works if you’re honest with your doctor. It’s imperative that you review any and all issues you’ve been having regardless of how minor you think it is or how embarrassed you are. A physician has heard it all, you will not shock them.

What to expect at your annual physical

I’ve been getting annual physicals since I was in my 20’s so I feel comfortable telling you what to expect. At the time of writing this article, I’m in my 50s which is WAY different in the physical department than 20. We’ll get to that in a minute.

Family history review and how you feel now any issues?

If it’s your first time the doctor will want to know your family history. Have there been any health issues in your family? The doctor will also ask you general questions like do you smoke, drink alcohol, use drugs, sexual health (don’t be an idiot with this question — I know there’s a million jokes there but don’t do it) diet, exercise, and some other questions. Lying during any of these questions will not help you.

Vital signs

The following vital signs will be taken:

Heart

Electrocardiogram — this machine detects if you have any abnormalities or irregular heartbeats. It’s a very simple test that takes about 5 minutes or less. Small “tabs” adhere to your skin in different places with wires that measure your heartbeat. You feel nothing other than the tabs being pulled off when they are done. Chest hair is not your friend for this test. The results are immediate as well.

Lungs

Stethoscope — The doctor will listen to your breathing in several areas in front and on your back. They are looking for any wheezing, cracking sounds, or abnormalities.

Head and Neck

Open up and say ah… for a peek inside your mouth and throat. The doctor will also check your ears, eyes, and nose. You will also have your lymph nodes checked by feeling your neck.

Abdomen

The doctor will have you lay back and then tap on your abdomen to get a gauge of the size of your liver while also listening via stethoscope for sounds in your stomach. This is where those ab exercises pay off. My doctor once commented on my strong stomach muscles, though covered by a layer of thin fat. Ummm thanks Doc?!

Skin check

You may have a quick skin check done just to look for anything out of the ordinary that would detect skin cancer. If he finds any abnormalities he/she may recommend you see a dermatologist. My doctor doesn’t really do this anymore because he knows I see a dermatologist regularly.

Bloodwork

The doctor will provide you a prescription to have blood work done. This bloodwork is typically used to test cholesterol, thyroid levels, blood cell counts, blood sugar levels, and a host of other things that I won’t bore you with. Just get your bloodwork done. It takes no time at all to do in an outside lab. If you hate needles well you’ll need to suck it up because dying is way worse than having a needle draw blood for 2 minutes.

And now the not so good stuff…

If you’re a man approaching 50 or sometimes even 40 there are a few tests that are NECESSARY and non-negotiable. Some of these tests are done in the office and one will have to be done by a gastroenterologist. Now, these are sensitive areas we’re about to discuss and again there is a multitude of jokes that can be inserted into these uncomfortable situations with your doctor. It’s up to you to gauge their level of humor to know if the time and place are right or not.

Testicular Exam

It’s important to do your own self-evaluation on a regular basis (insert masturbation joke of some sort here if needed — “I’m good at self-exams, at least three times a week for me”, you get the idea) but your doctor may also perform one in office.

Colonoscopy

There are many horror stories about colonoscopies but I am here to tell you it really isn’t a big deal. I had one about 5 years ago (and I’m due again as we speak now that I hit the 50-year-old mark — usually the benchmark for your first one). The worst part of the whole process for me was not being able to eat solid food for 24 hours prior to the exam and the preparation.

The Prostate exam

Well, gentleman, we’ve saved the best for last. The prostate exam is your doctor literally giving you “the finger”, where you wouldn’t expect it. I won’t go into the gory details but my primary care doctor says he enjoys performing this test even LESS than we like receiving it. I don’t enjoy it at all so he must really hate it having to possibly perform multiple exams in a day.

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