June is Men’s Health Month, which is a perfect time for men to evaluate their personal health and become more proactive if necessary. Celebrated throughout the United States, Men’s Health Month offers the opportunity to promote wellness among boys and men.

Eating healthy and being active through regular exercise are two of the most important decisions a man can make to live healthy. Not only do these initiatives lower the risk of health problems like heart disease and diabetes, but men who maintain a healthy lifestyle also tend to have less stress, more energy and a higher level of optimism.

Although some men are very proactive about their health, others seem to benefit by receiving a little push from the women in their life. According to Dennis M. Jensen, a medical doctor at Shawnee Mission Primary Care—Prairie Star in Lenexa, Kansas, women play a key role in helping men stay healthy.

“Often, women are the ones who plan meals and activities for their families, care for their aging parents and encourage their spouses to get to the doctor for wellness visits,” said Jensen. “I have cared for numerous male patients who have had potentially life-threatening conditions diagnosed and treated at the prompting of their spouse or daughter.”

As part of Men’s Health Month, Shawnee Mission Health encourages men to schedule an annual exam with a primary care physician in order to obtain recommended annual health screenings. It’s also beneficial to set aside time for rest, foster interpersonal relationships and keep a positive outlook on life—all principles of CREATION Health that can reduce stress and lead to better health.

“I have been impressed with how many of my younger male patients in their 20s and 30s take charge of their health and get physicals, even when not required by their employer’s insurance,” said Jensen.

With most health insurances and Medicare covering the entire cost of annual wellness visits, it’s tough to justify not seeing your doctor each year.

Four recommended screenings for men

One of the most important reasons to see your doctor annually is to stay on track with recommended cancer screenings. Many cancers can be treated successfully if detected early. Jensen recommends the following cancer screenings for his male patients:

Colorectal screening: Men should begin screening at age 50 unless a parent or sibling has a history of colorectal cancer prompting them to start earlier. Screening should continue until at least age 75. While men only need colonoscopies every 5 to 10 years, colorectal screening tests like fecal occult blood testing should be completed annually.

Skin cancer screening: Each year, men should have their primary care physician or a dermatologist do a complete skin exam to look for signs of skin cancer.

Prostate cancer screening: Men who are experiencing prostate symptoms such as frequent nighttime trips to the bathroom, straining with urination, a weak urine stream or frequent dribbling at the end of urination should be screened annually.

Lung Cancer Screening: Men over the age of 55 with a history of smoking may benefit from having an annual low-dose CT scan of the chest.

According to Jensen’s experience with patients, men’s top health priorities are weight control, boosting energy levels, keeping a positive attitude and maintaining a healthy sex life—all issues that can have a substantial impact on physical and emotional health.

“Many patients are reluctant to bring up these issues with their primary care physician because they are embarrassed or feel nothing can be done for their problem,” said Jensen. “The truth is in the majority of cases your physician can help. Your physician wants you to have the best health possible, and that starts with taking the initiative to choose to live healthy.”