Common myths and misconceptions of men’s health

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Ladies, if you find yourself dragging your husband or father to the doctor, know you're not alone. Studies show women live nearly five years longer than men, and experts suggest one reason is that women are more inclined to go to the doctor.

Women are obviously used to going to the doctor for pap smears or when they get pregnant, but there's nothing that requires men to get a checkup until the recommended colonoscopy at age 50.

Dr. Harland Holman at Spectrum Health sees his fair share of guys avoiding any kind of needle or medication. In fact, he tells us one of his patients, Dusty Scheuerman, who avoided the doctor for 23 years. But with urging from his wife, Scheuerman decided to get a checkup where he was found to have high blood pressure and cholesterol.

Dr. Holman says that's all too common. His advice is to man up and don't wait until it's too late.

"There’s a lot of fear," Holman said. "I’m not sure why. I think they’re not used to coming in. They like to toughen it out."

Dr. Holman lists five misconceptions or myths about men's health.

Myth #1: Men need a yearly prostate exam. Dr. Holman says yearly prostate and testicular screenings have no proven benefits and are not necessary for low risk men. However, he suggests men get a checkup and be screened for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and colon cancer (if they're over 50). It is reasonable for a man without symptoms or risk factors for prostate or testicular cancer to choose not to have a rectal or testicular examination.

Myth #2: Erectile dysfunction is all in your head. Erectile dysfunction can be a sign of more serious issues, such as vascular disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, smoking, hypertension, obesity, and heart disease.

Myth #3: Men get tired because they have low testosterone. What actually causes fatigue are other issues like thyroid disorder and anemia.

Myth #4: Once a man hits 30, he doesn't need vaccinations. Actually, a tetanus shot that includes pertussis vaccine is recommended every 10 years. Any men who smoke or have a chronic health condition or are over 65 should also consider the pneumonia vaccine and the shingles vaccine. And Dr. Holman suggests getting the yearly flu shot.

Myth #5: Snoring is no big deal. Dr. Holman says snoring can actually be a sign of dangerous sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, which can lead to heart disease and hypertension.

"Don’t wait," Scheuerman said. "Just go every couple of years just to get a checkup. See where you’re at: It’s easier to make small changes than massive changes."

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