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    11 Things Doctors Wish They Could Tell Guys Who Don't Go To The Doctor

    Read this if your last check-up was with your pediatrician.

    If you're the type of guy that very rarely goes to the doctor, you're not alone.

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    Most of the guys I've spoken to seem to share this innate avoidance of healthcare. Shit, I'm a health editor and even I haven't been to the doctor this year — it's gonna happen, though, I swear! Maybe you haven't gone because you feel young and healthy (like I do), so why bother? Or maybe you're just busy or broke. Maybe you don't like feeling vulnerable, so getting your body checked out by a stranger sounds like the actual worst.

    There are so many reasons you might skip a yearly checkup, but the truth is that as you get older, an annual physical becomes even more important. To tell us why, BuzzFeed Health spoke to Ana Fadich, MPH, vice president of the Men's Health Network, and Dr. Steven Lamm, director of the Preston Robert Tisch Center for Men’s Health at NYU Langone Medical Center.

    Here's what they wish men knew about going to the doctor:

    1. Your doctor isn't there to judge you or give you bad news.

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    A good doctor will encourage you and help build you up so that you can live a healthier life, Lamm says. Also — they're human — so they're not going to shame you for having fast food or drinking; they just want to give you the tools to be as healthy as possible.

    "We want to upgrade you so that you can function at a much higher level," he says, noting that being in optimal health will empower you in a variety of ways. "You’ll be more productive at work, you’ll have more energy, your libido will be dramatically increased, your stamina will be increased."

    2. Feeling like you're in perfect health is great! But you should still get a professional opinion every now and then.

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    The gym may be your second home, you may love healthy food, and you may feel like fuckin' Iron Man, but you might still have underlying health issues that have gone unchecked for too long, Fadich says.

    "You don’t know what’s going on in your blood vessels," she says. "You could have an accumulation of plaque that could lead to a heart attack or stroke. ... You could have high cholesterol and not know about it. There are people who are vegan who have high cholesterol because it runs in their family."

    3. Plus, knowing your health baseline will make it way easier to tackle whatever health issue might come up in the future.

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    Consistently visiting your doc every year will give them a baseline of your health and it'll help them track your progress. "I want you to come to me once a year so that I can tell you, in the past year, this is what we have learned," Lamm says. From there, he says your doctor can provide you with advice on how to improve your health even more, or keep it ~just right~ if you're already there.

    On the flip side, having your medical history on file also gives your doctor a better understanding of your overall health status when something looks out of the ordinary, Fadich says.

    4. Don't wait until something is awful and unbearable before coming in.

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    So it just occasionally burns when you pee, but that'll probably go away right? Yeah, you should just go to the doctor. If it ends up actually being something and you put off treatment, you're putting yourself at risk for more serious health complications. For instance, untreated STIs can lead to reproductive issues, says Fadich.

    Likewise, learning that you have a problem early on will give you a head start on improving your health before it reaches an irreversible level, Lamm says. So if you discover that you have abnormal cholesterol or blood pressure levels — which are both risk factors for diabetes and heart disease — your doctor could recommend dietary or fitness changes that put you back on the right track, Fadich says.

    5. FYI: Boner issues are sometimes a sign of something else.

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    Erectile dysfunction might be what you actually notice, but it's often a sign of an underlying issue. "I'm amazed anybody can get an erection in the first place," Lamm says, "because it's such a complicated system that requires healthy blood vessels, healthy nerves, a healthy amount of hormones, and a healthy mental state."

    If any of these systems are compromised — say, from stress or from an arterial blockage somewhere else in the body — that can lead to erectile dysfunction, Fadich says. "So I always tell men who have a complaint about erectile dysfunction to go to their doctors to have their blood work done. See if there's something else going on," she says.

    6. And just generally feeling ~off~ is a perfectly legit reason to go to the doctor.

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    Fatigue, shortness of breath, sudden weight gain or weight loss, a new sunspot appearing, migraines that suddenly get worse — anything that just doesn't feel normal could be a sign of something else going on in your body, says Lamm and Fadich.

    "Normal is different for everybody, but if you go to the doctor now and tell them the symptoms, then they can diagnose you and figure out what it is.

    7. Getting tested for STIs isn't something you just do once.

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    You should ideally be getting tested every time you have a new partner — before you have sex with them, Fadich says. This way, if you were to come down with something, you'd be able to trace it back to a specific person, rather than calling the past five or six people you had sex with and scaring the shit out of everybody.

    That said, men who have sex with men are at a higher risk of HIV and certain other STIs, so if that's you, it's a good idea to keep a regular schedule with your doctor. Here's more info on STI testing for anyone with a penis.

    8. Know when you need to get screened for certain things.

    While you can search the US Preventive Services Task Force website for specific screening guidelines, you should really talk to your doctor about when to get checked, Fadich says. Certain factors can up your risk of certain diseases at an earlier age.

    For example, it's recommended that most men get their first prostate cancer screening at age 50. But black men and men with a first-degree relative who had prostate cancer before 65 should get screened at 45. And if you have more than one first-degree relative who had prostate cancer before 65, get screened at 40.

    9. If you smoke, you should definitely see a doctor at least once a year.

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    Despite smoking rates declining in the US, men are still more likely to smoke than women.

    So, really, you should just stop smoking, but because we're not trying to be judgey here we'll give you a tip you can use. Fadich says people who smoke should commit to seeing a doctor once a year so that they can get their lungs tested.

    10. You should probably tell your doctor if you're regularly exposed to some hazardous stuff on the job.

    Whether that's stress, smoke, heights, the sun — whatever. It may seem like a normal part of your day-to-day life, but it could also up your risk of certain things. And if you're someone who doesn't go to the doctor regularly, you probably aren't even thinking about this.

    In some cases, you may be at risk for occupational illnesses, which are caused by exposure to harmful chemicals or conditions that speed up their development. So people who work in construction, at chemical plants or other factories, or anywhere where there's exhaust spewing out into the air could face a higher risk of certain diseases, and therefore need to see their doctor regularly to monitor for any changes, Fadich says.

    11. Mental health conditions affect men, too.

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    Roughly 30% of men say they've experienced depression once in their life — it just shows up in different ways, causing irritability, sleep and concentration problems, fatigue, and eating disorders, Lamm says. Recognizing this is important because men are four times more likely to commit suicide than women, making it the seventh leading cause of death among men.

    "Men often don't like to talk about their feelings and emotions because they are told from a young age that big boys don't cry — man up," Fadich says, while also encouraging men to talk to their doctors, a trusted family member, or a friend about how they're feeling and what they're experiencing. At the very least, it will help lessen the stress associated with keeping this to yourself. At best, it can help you get treatment and get back to being you.

    So go to your doctor — it'll be worth it!

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