Men’s Physical Exam—What to Expect and How to Prepare

You likely already know that exercise and a healthy diet are critical to proactively maintain good health, but you might not realise how critical a routine physical examination is to your overall preventive medicine plan.
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What To Expect During Male Physical Exam

Gender-specific tests are necessary because male and female bodies are made differently. It is especially true when it comes to evaluating the health of the reproductive system. For those born as males, this usually includes examination of the penis and testicles. This allows for better screening for conditions that affect these areas.

There are several parts to a physical exam. Some take place at your doctor’s office while others may require screening exams or lab work for testing blood. Here’s what you can normally expect at a physical check-up:

Questionnaire and interview

One of the key parts of a physical exam is the health questionnaire. It is important that you answer these questions accurately and honestly. Your doctor will also ask you questions during your exam about your lifestyle habits and any signs or symptoms you may be experiencing that could indicate a problem. Combined with the physical exam, your responses to the health questionnaire and the interview questions will provide your doctor with an overview of your health and can indicate the need for further tests or diagnostic exams.

Once a questionnaire has been taken, the physician will do a general examination of the muscular system, skeletal system, skin, heart and lungs. Height and weight are recorded and used to determine body mass — an indicator of overall health.

Genital Exam

Male physical check-up usually includes an examination of the penis and testicles. The physician looks for structural abnormalities, such as testicular tumours. Your health provider may also examine for a hernia, which may occur when part of the bowel pushes into the scrotum from the abdomen. To check for a hernia, the physician presses into the area above the testicles and asks the patient to cough.

Other Tests

A urine or blood test may be performed to uncover any hidden ailments such as high cholesterol or sexually transmitted diseases, or to detect the presence of drugs. Older males may also be screened for conditions such as heart disease, prostate tumours and colorectal cancer. Heart conditions are typically detected with an electrocardiogram (EKG), which uses sensors on parts of the body to give the physician information about a patient’s heart rhythm. Prostate and colorectal conditions are typically assessed with digital rectal exams and faecal sample tests.

How to prepare for your first appointment

Your physical exam doesn’t have to be stress-inducing. For the most part, your healthcare provider will lead the way. But it’s also good to take a few simple steps to prepare yourself for your physical to ensure that you get the most out of your appointment.

  • Write down questions: It’s all too easy to forget what you want to ask your provider by the time you get into the office.
  • Make your other appointments first: If you know you need blood work or any other health maintenance-related screenings, have them done in advance of your physical. Be sure to bring those results along with you so you and your provider can review them in person.
  • Catalogue your medical history: Has anything changed since your last physical? If you’ve received new diagnoses, gotten a vaccine, had surgery or have any other recent health information to share, this is the time to tell your provider.
  • Know your medications: Your provider needs to know what you’re taking, even if it was prescribed by someone else or purchased over the counter, so bring a list of your medications, supplements and vitamins, or simply take photos of the labels
  • Bring any additional health data: If you keep a food log, use a symptom tracker, chart your blood pressure or keep track of anything else related to your health, bring that information to share with your provider, too.

Your doctor may also give you guidance for healthy living as it relates to any issues you’re experiencing. And your after-visit summary (typically available both in print and online, if your provider uses an electronic medical record that you can access), they will recap what you’ve discussed during the visit.

This visit sets the groundwork for following up with any other health concerns or questions you may have. Your primary care provider will keep track of everything you discussed and will keep a record of it so they have an overall picture of your health. That means that what you discuss at this appointment can inform your conversations and goals for future appointments if necessary, thus keeping you on a healthy track for the long term.

Finding the Right Health Provider Is Key

Above all else, finding the right primary care provider is key to a successful appointment. Medical knowledge and experience alone do not make a great doctor. The best health care professionals are those who listen to their patients and recognise what each individual needs in terms of treatment.

If you live in the Kelowna or Calgary area and are wondering how or where to proactively take the first step for a better overall health, contact InvestMed today and learn about the available health packages that are designed to meet your specific needs.

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