Men's Health Checklist for Every Age

Catherine Roberts

Consumer Reports has no financial relationship with advertisers on this site.

Consumer Reports has no financial relationship with advertisers on this site.

It can be challenging to keep track of all the tests, vaccines, and preventive health measures a man needs to be healthy throughout his life. That may be one reason a 2016 American Academy of Family Physicians survey found that men often don’t take prescriptions as directed or get routine tests that doctors ordered.

On the plus side, about 64 percent of men said they’d seen a doctor within the previous six months, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (PDF).

Developing a relationship with your primary healthcare provider is a smart move, says John Meigs Jr., M.D., a past president of the AAFP and a family doctor in Centreville, Ala. “It’s extremely important that men—and women—have a regular source of care that they see on some kind of regular basis,” he says.

To help men safeguard their health, we’ve gathered recommendations from the CDC, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (a national, independent panel of medical experts), and the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation’s Choosing Wisely initiative, as well as experts in men’s and preventive healthcare.

Here are the screening tests and vaccinations men need and the smart steps they should take in their 20s and 30s40s and 50s, and 60s and beyond. (And here’s a similar checklist for women.)

What Men Should Do in Their 20s and 30s

Vaccinations

Screening Tests

Review With Your Doctor

Men’s Health Tips

Early adulthood is an ideal time to develop an ongoing working relationship with a family or primary care doctor, Meigs says. That way, you’ll have someone you trust—and who is familiar with your lifestyle and health history—to talk to about any health concerns.

That’s important when it comes to diseases that may be uncomfortable to discuss or that don’t get regularly screened for, such as testicular cancer, Meigs says. In this case, for example, some men might ignore symptoms, and the USPSTF recommends against regular screening for the cancer because it is relatively rare and has a high survival rate.

Still, testicular cancer is the most common cancer among men ages 15 to 34. If you discover a lump or have pain in a testicle, it’s important to tell your doctor.

And while the CDC’s baseline recommendations for yearly STD screenings are directed mainly at women and at men who have sex with men, Ana Fadich, M.P.H., vice president of the nonprofit health education group Men’s Health Network, says all men should consider STD testing any time they change sexual partners.

Men will need to request this screening at the doctor’s office, Fadich says, because there’s no men’s health equivalent of the well-woman visit, in which STD screenings are routine.

What Men Should Do in Their 40s and 50s

Vaccinations

Screening Tests

Review With Your Doctor

Men’s Health Tips

During these years, your cardiovascular risk factors, such as high blood pressure and weight gain, might rise, Meigs says. (For more on your cardiovascular risk, see our recent report here.)

And because metabolism naturally slows with age, he says, it’s especially important for men in this age group to stay active and keep up with good eating habits. That will help you maintain a healthy weight and reduce heart disease risks.

When it comes to prostate cancer screening, “That requires a conversation with your doctor,” Meigs says. In May 2018 the USPSTF updated its guidelines, and experts differ on whether men should be routinely checked for signs of the cancer using a PSA test. The USPSTF does not recommend this blood test unless men request it, after first hearing about the potential benefits and risks of being tested.

Talk with your doctor about your personal risk profile for prostate cancer; people who have a family history of prostate cancer or are African American or of African descent might be at higher risk.

What Men Should Do in Their 60s and Beyond

Vaccinations

Screening Tests

Review With Your Doctor

Men’s Health Tips

Losing a partner or ending a relationship can return you to the singles pool—which can come with an increased risk of contracting an STD, Fadich says. That’s why it’s wise to continue using condoms during sex, even if pregnancy is no longer a risk for your partner.

It’s important to keep tabs on your brainpower and mental health as well. “At this age, folks begin to worry about getting forgetful,” Meigs says.

Staying socially involved and physically active can be good for your emotional well-being and cognition, he notes. A study from the British Journal of Sports Medicine shows that aerobic exercise and strength training, as well as tai chi, can improve brain function in people older than 50, even for those who are beginning to experience cognitive decline. (Avoid memory supplements, however.)

Try to keep up with a regular exercise routine: The CDC recommends 30 minutes of aerobic exercise per day five days a week and two days per week of strength training for older adults.

Additional reporting by Chris Hendel.



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  • Sexually transmitted disease: If you’re sexually active and have sex with men, get screened at least once a year for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. And all men should get tested for HIV at least once. According to the CDC, everyone between ages 13 and 64 should be tested during their lifetime. (If you have certain risk factors, you’ll need additional screenings.)
  • Blood pressure: Have it checked at least once every two years.
  • Cholesterol: Have your cholesterol tested every four to six years, depending on results. If you have heart disease or diabetes, a family history of heart disease, or other cardiac risk factors, you may need to do this more often.
  • Type 2 diabetes: If you’re overweight or obese and have one or more other risk factors, such as a family history of diabetes or high blood pressure or cholesterol, have a blood test every three years, depending on results.
  • Sexual history and condom use.
  • Diet, exercise, and sleep habits.
  • Smoking, alcohol consumption, and any other substance-use habits.
  • Sexually transmitted disease: If you’re sexually active and have sex with men, get screened at least once a year for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis.
  • Blood pressure: Have it checked at least once every two years.
  • Cholesterol: Continue blood tests for cholesterol every four to six years, depending on risk factors and results. After 40, your doctor will use an equation to assess your 10-year risk for heart disease.
  • Type 2 diabetes: If you’re overweight or obese and have one or more other risk factors, such as a family history of diabetes or high blood pressure or cholesterol, have a blood test every three years, depending on results. Otherwise, get tested at age 45. 
  • Colorectal cancer: At age 45, talk to your doctor about when to begin screening for colon cancer; most people can start screening at age 50, though controversial new guidelines from the American Cancer Society suggest that men consider starting at age 45. A colonoscopy every 10 years, a stool test every year, and a few other screening options are available. Ask your doctor which one may be best for you.
  • Prostate cancer: Regular prostate specific antigen (PSA) tests, which may detect prostate cancer, might not be necessary. Be sure to talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of the test. If you’re concerned about prostate cancer, talk with your doctor at 55 or earlier about whether you’re at increased risk.
  • Sexual history and condom use.
  • Diet, exercise, and sleep habits.
  • Smoking, alcohol consumption, and any other substance-use habits.
  • Flu shot, every year.
  • Tetanus booster, every 10 years.
  • Shingrix (shingles) vaccine if you haven’t already received it.
  • Two pneumonia vaccines, starting at 65. The CDC recommends a dose of what’s known as PCV13 (Prevnar) first. At least one year later, get a dose of PPSV23 (Pneumovax).
  • Sexually transmitted disease: If you’re sexually active and have sex with men, get screened at least once a year for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis.
  • Blood pressure: Have it checked at least once every two years.
  • Cholesterol: Continue blood tests for cholesterol every four to six years, depending on risk factors and results.
  • Type 2 diabetes: Have this testing every three years, depending on results.
  • Colorectal cancer: Continue screening with a colonoscopy every 10 years, a stool test every year, or sigmoidoscopy every five years with a stool test every three years. Other colon cancer screening options are available; ask your doctor which may be best for you. You can stop colon cancer screening at age 75.
  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm: If you’ve ever smoked, the USPSTF currently recommends that you have an ultrasound to test for abdominal aortic aneurysm—an enlarged area in the aorta that can rupture if it gets too large—sometime between ages 65 and 75.
  • Sexual history and condom use.
  • Diet, exercise, and sleep habits.
  • Smoking, alcohol consumption, and any other substance-use habits.

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