Men’s Health Testing
What Is Men’s Health?
Men’s health focuses on elements of wellness that only apply to men or that affect men at higher rates or in ways that are distinct from women.
On average, men live five years fewer than women. More than 40% of adult men live with obesity, and over half have high blood pressure. Diseases like prostate cancer only occur in men, and some high-risk lifestyle habits, such as use of alcohol and cigarettes, are more common in men.
Despite these health concerns, men are more likely to avoid going to the doctor to get the medical care and tests they need. An emphasis on men’s health involves promoting positive lifestyle habits, regular medical checkups, and testing to promptly identify potential health problems.
The Role of Testing in Men’s Health
Appropriate medical testing is one of several important components of men’s health. Depending on the circumstances, testing may be used for screening, diagnosis, and monitoring.
Screening is the medical term for looking for a potential problem before symptoms arise. For many conditions, screening leads to early detection that makes that problem easier to address. However, there can be downsides to screening, so the recommended tests for men depend on your age and overall health.
Diagnosis is the process of determining the cause of a problem after you have developed signs or symptoms. A huge range of tests can be used for diagnosis depending on your symptoms. Discussing health changes or concerns with a doctor can help them determine the diagnostic tests that are most likely to identify the underlying issue.
After a health problem or disease has been diagnosed, tests are frequently used to monitor your condition. If you are receiving treatment, follow-up tests can evaluate how well the treatment is working.
Types of Men’s Health Tests
A wide variety of tests are available that can help promote men’s health depending on a person’s individual circumstances.
Some tests are routine forms of screening that are often performed as part of a regular check-up with your doctor:
- Physical exam: A basic physical exam can reveal or examine various types of potential problems.
- Body weight and body mass index (BMI) calculation: Taking your weight and height can help determine if you are overweight or obese.
- Blood pressure reading: Recording your blood pressure, usually with a cuff that wraps around your upper arm, can document high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, which can contribute to cardiovascular problems.
- Complete blood count (CBC): This blood test measures the levels of different types of blood cells.
- Comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP): This test involves several different measurements that provide insights about metabolism as well as liver and kidney function.
Depending on your age, overall health, and risk factors, your doctor may recommend one or more screening tests for different medical conditions. Examples of possible screening tests are listed in the following table:
|Diabetes||Fasting glucose tests, hemoglobin A1c|
|Cardiovascular disease||Lipid panel|
|Depression / anxiety||Mental health questionnaires|
|Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)||Chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis testing|
|Colon cancer||Colonoscopy, fecal occult blood test (FOBT), stool DNA test|
|Prostate cancer||Prostate specific antigen (PSA) test|
There are no standard screening tests for some conditions that affect men’s health such as testicular cancer. Medical experts generally recommend only testing for testicular cancer if you’ve had symptoms. Examples of tests that may be used when symptoms are present are described in the table below. A doctor can best address whether these tests are appropriate in your specific situation:
|TESTS RELATED TO TESTICULAR CANCER|
|Test Name||Test Sample||What It Measures|
|Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP)||Blood||A protein that is often produced by a certain type of testicular tumor|
|Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG)||Blood||A hormone that can be produced by different types of testicular tumors|
|Lactate dehydrogenase (LD or LDH)||Blood||An enzyme that reflects cellular damage and may be elevated in testicular cancer and numerous other conditions|
|Ultrasound||N/A||An image of the testicles to detect the presence of a tumor|
Professional medical organizations do not recommend general screening of testosterone levels However, if you have symptoms of low testosterone, your doctor may recommend one or more of the following tests:
|TESTS RELATED TO LOW TESTOSTERONE|
|Test Name||Test Sample||What It Measures|
|Testosterone and sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG)||Blood||The level of bound and/or free testosterone|
|Luteinizing hormone (LH)||Blood||A hormone involved in the signalling of testosterone production|
|Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)||Blood||A hormone related to production of sperm and proteins that bind to male hormones|
|Prolactin||N/A||A hormone that may be elevated if a tumor in the pituitary gland called prolactinoma is causing low testosterone|
Getting Men’s Health Testing
Men’s health testing most often occurs in a health clinic or a doctor’s office. Many tests take place during an annual check-up. In addition, your doctor can help explain which screening tests are recommended based on your age and health and which diagnostic tests may be most helpful for any symptoms or health concerns that you have.
Some types of at-home testing is available for aspects of men’s health screening. For example, at-home tests can measure cholesterol or blood sugar. At-home screening may also be available for HIV, some sexually transmitted infections, and colon cancer.
Sources and Resources
These pages provide further background about men’s health and steps that men can take to improve their wellness.
- National Library of Medicine: Men’s Health
- Health.gov: Get Screened
- Health.gov: Men: Take Charge of Your Health
- Merck Manual: Men’s Health Issues
Bhasin S, Brito JP, Cunningham GR, et al. Testosterone Therapy in Men With Hypogonadism: An Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2018;103(5):1715-1744. doi:10.1210/jc.2018-00229
CDC/National Center for Health Statistics. FastStats: Men’s Health. Published March 29, 2021. Accessed April 1, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/mens-health.htm
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Which STD tests should I get? Updated June 30, 2014. Accessed April 1, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/std/prevention/screeningreccs.htm
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2015 STD treatment guidelines. Published January 28, 2021. Accessed April 2, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/std/tg2015/default.htm
Lin KW. Screening for testicular cancer. In: Elmore JG, ed. UpToDate. Updated October 7, 2020. Accessed April 2, 2021. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/screening-for-testicular-cancer
MedlinePlus: National Library of Medicine. Men’s health. Updated April 17, 2018. Accessed April 1, 2021. https://medlineplus.gov/menshealth.html
MedlinePlus: National Library of Medicine. Testosterone levels test. Updated December 3, 2020. Accessed April 1, 2021. https://medlineplus.gov/lab-tests/testosterone-levels-test/
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Men: Take charge of your health. Updated October 15, 2020. Accessed April 1, 2021. https://health.gov/myhealthfinder/topics/doctor-visits/regular-checkups/men-take-charge-your-health#panel-2
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National men’s health week. Updated June 10, 2019. Accessed April 1, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/healthequity/features/nmhw/index.html
PDQ® Screening and Prevention Editorial Board. Prostate cancer screening (PDQ®)–Patient version. National Cancer Institute; 2019. Updated April 10, 2019. Accessed April 1, 2021. https://www.cancer.gov/types/prostate/patient/prostate-screening-pdq
Snyder PJ. Clinical features and diagnosis of male hypogonadism. In: Matsumoto AM, ed. UpToDate. Updated March 19, 2020. Accessed April 2, 2021. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/clinical-features-and-diagnosis-of-male-hypogonadism
U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Chlamydia and gonorrhea: Screening. Published September 22, 2014. Accessed April 2, 2021. https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/document/RecommendationStatementFinal/chlamydia-and-gonorrhea-screening
Williams J, Nieuwsma J. Screening for depression in adults. In: Elmore JG, Roy-Byrne PP, eds. UpToDate. Updated June 26, 2020. Accessed April 2, 2021. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/screening-for-depression-in-adults
Xu JQ, Murphy SL, Kochanek KD, Arias E. Mortality in the United States, 2018. NCHS Data Brief, no 355. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2020.