The Annual Men’s Health Physical Exam for men has gone the way of the jockstrap since the Covid-19 Pandemic. Any man under the age of fifty years old likely has never worn or much less seen a jockstrap. This garment from the late 1800s was invented with the specific intent of securing the male anatomy. The same way the sports bra secures the female anatomy. The jockstrap has disappeared among modern men. It has since given rise to the new era of compression shorts likely due to the rise of cultural homophobia from the eighties to the aughts. The jockstrap was a once standard-issued garment for middle-school through military recruits. It initiated boys into manhood. They learned to be secure in their bodies and bonded in their vulnerabilities.
The Annual Men’s Health Physical Exam
A once familiar ritual. It included talking to your physician. Having a detailed conversation about your medical history. All while looking for signs and symptoms; new medications, and social habits. All with the intent of detecting early indications of preventable diseases. After the history, there is a head-to-toe hands-on physical examination. The doctor uses their powers of observation, auscultation, percussion, and palpation to gain insight. This time-honored tradition helps establish trust through the power of the human touch.
The Death of Patient Care
The men’s physical exam has been dying off since the advent of HMOs and the claim of evidence-based medicine. Healthcare has become dependent on genetic, blood, and imaging tests. Modern technology paired with a sue happy environment has led to extensive testing and referrals. A primary care physician is more of a data entry clerk and air traffic controller in today’s world. Hands-on physical exam skills have atrophied. Another reason for the extensive testing and referring is it saves time for the physician.
How the Game Works
In a traditional doctor’s office that takes insurance the name of the game is volume. That office has to take in a certain amount per hour to operate. For this reason, many appointments are double booked. Some specialties schedule 3-4 months out and waiting rooms are always crowded. Emergency declaration orders have opened up the financial pipeline for telemedicine visits. These will only continue as long as the reimbursement remains equal to an office visit.
The New vs. The Old
Physicians trained amid the technological advances of today are missing something. Older physicians and nurse practitioners trained with fewer technological advances are more perceptive. They are more likely to notice the clinical signs of heart failure. They look at your neck veins; listen to your lungs; note the indentations on your ankles. They can even observe how long you speak without taking another breath. These are all important skills lost on newer generations of doctors and nurses.
New Forms of Patient Care
As physical exam skills wither and medical technology becomes more prevalent. A new kind of patient care is emerging. I have extolled the virtues of telemedicine and was one of the first adopters of this technology. Yet, it is not a replacement for a hands-on physical exam. There’s something very revealing about standing naked in front of a healthcare professional. One who will take the time to connect with you. Who else will give you a candid opinion that addresses your hopes, fears, and insecurities? The Men’s Health Physical Exam is a time when you learn to observe yourself and build resilience. The Men’s Health Physical Exam also meets the patient’s expectation of being seen and known.
A Men’s Health Physical Exam is a sensitive means of early detection for a host of ailments, but it is not very specific. Not all abnormalities need intervention. It might be your personal range of normal. Finding something sometimes means reexamining it again after some time has passed. Having a trusted relationship with your primary care provider helps manage that anxiety. When a positive finding is on a CT scan the same answer may apply. Reimage in 6 months. The CT scan though exposes you to unnecessary radiation. Unnecessary radiation exposure increases the risk of developing certain cancers. All the technological advances in testing often yield incidental findings and red herrings.
The annual Men’s Health Physical Exam has many overlooked benefits. The Men’s Health Physical Exam provides essential information for an initial diagnosis. It is especially useful for conditions that present as a cluster of signs and symptoms. An annual physical is also less expensive in the long run than many tests available. It provides sensitivity to a dehumanizing process; also known as the current health care system.
How Can Metro Medical Direct Help Me?
In my practice, I merge the old with the new. I do medical house calls in Manhattan. You receive a traditional comprehensive Men’s Health Physical Exam. Imaging, if necessary, is done by ultrasound (also in your home). We discuss your test results and schedule another visit to reexamine what was found during your Men’s Health Physical Exam that needs special attention. You will know what to look for in the meantime to self-monitor.
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Ian Matonti is a freelance writer who’s passionate about spreading mental health awareness. Read his blog at www.madmentalhealth.com.