Among the roles you take on as a spouse, partner or girlfriend, such as co-breadwinner and household CEO, guess what? You’re the health gatekeeper too. You’re the one who oversees your guy’s health choices and decisions. Science bears this out.

A recent University of Chicago study, for example, found that older married men were 20% more likely to get a colonoscopy to screen for colon cancer in the past five years compared to men who were single. The percentage went up to 40% if men were happily married and their wives had high levels of education.

The researchers concluded that women’s health decisions influence their partners, especially if men view their wives as supportive. In other words, nagging—in a nice way—can be healthy.

What can you do to help your guy take good care of himself? Drop these healthful hints.

“When was the last time you had a check-up?”

Once men hit age 18 and they stop having yearly check-ups at the pediatrician, many don’t see a doctor again until their 50s, when prostate problems may start to become an issue or when they have a health crisis, such as a heart attack. That’s a missed opportunity for prevention.

Even if your guy feels fine, he should see the doctor regularly. Check-ups can catch something early, even before symptoms show up, such as diabetes or pre-diabetes, the situation in which blood sugar is high but not high enough to be diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Preventionmore than 29 million Americans have diabetes, but one in four don’t know because they haven’t been tested (a fasting blood test at the doctor’s office can detect it).

“The first thing if you’re thinking of how to take care of your body
is to listen to it and to not write off your concern.”
– Dr. Elizabeth Looney Di, Flagler Health+ Primary Care at Greenbriar

Because men tend to have less contact with the medical system, they’re especially at risk. “If you catch and treat diabetes earlier, it’s easier to control,” says Carl Butch, MD. An early diagnosis can also reduce the risk of common diabetes complications, such as blindness. 

“Let’s check out your risk for a heart attack.”

Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the U.S. One of every four deaths is heart disease-related. To help your man reduce his risk, suggest that he calculate his 10-year risk of heart disease or stroke with the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Heart Risk Calculator,!/calculate/estimate/.

He can plug in his total and LDL (the “bad”) cholesterol and blood pressure numbers, among other data, such as his weight that he receives at his check-up. “Your risk score can be a powerful motivator,” says Dr. Butch, who uses the cardiovascular calculator app regularly with his patients. If your guy’s risk of having a cardiovascular event is at least 20%, he’s in the high-risk category. Urge him to do what he can to reduce it. Use the calculator to see how his percent changes if he quits smoking, for example, or loses 10 pounds. “Every 5% drop is significant,” Dr. Butch says.

“Maybe you should see a urologist.”

Like gynecologists for women, urologists are part of a comprehensive strategy for men for health maintenance and prevention. Urologists treat everything from urinary tract infections and male factor infertility to erectile dysfunction and hormonal imbalances, as well as prostate cancer.

“Because we manage very personal things, I like to have the opportunity to establish a relationship with patients so they can feel comfortable coming to me with certain issues that might get ignored, such as getting up more often to urinate,” says urologist Philip Dorsey, Jr., MD.

If your guy is over 40, urge him to see a urologist to get his prostate checked, particularly if he’s at increased risk for prostate cancer, which will affect about one in seven men during his lifetime. The American Urologic Association (AUA) doesn’t recommend routine protein-specific antigen (PSA) screening, a blood test that can help determine a man’s risk of developing prostate cancer, for men between ages 40 and 54 at average risk for prostate cancer, men over 70 or any man with a 10 to 15-year life expectancy. However, the AUA does recommend that men 55 to 69 discuss PSA screening with their doctor and decide together what’s right for them.

“PSA testing needs to be a discussion men have with their urologist so they can understand the benefits and potential shortcomings based on their situation,” Dr. Dorsey says. Because prostate cancer tends to run in families, Dr. Dorsey recommends early PSA screening for men with one or more family members or a family member diagnosed with prostate cancer before 65.

Know Your Numbers

Here’s a checkup checklist to make sure your guy gets the information he needs to monitor his health status. 

Blood cholesterol. To get accurate blood cholesterol results—LDL, HDL (the “good” cholesterol), triglycerides and total cholesterol, your guy will need to fast, typically for nine to 12 hours before his cholesterol test. That means no eating and drinking, other than water, after midnight. Targets: Less than 200 for total cholesterol, less than 100 for LDL and over 40 HDL and less than 150 for triglycerides.

Blood pressure: 120/80 is considered normal.

Fasting blood glucose: 70 to 99. If your guy has been diagnosed with diabetes, his HbA1c (average blood sugar over two to three months) should be less than 7%.

Waist circumference. Less than 40 inches (men) is optimal.

Body mass index (BMI): 18.6 to 24.9 is ideal.

These health numbers are important to track. Your guy can use them to monitor his health from year to year and stay motivated to take of himself by, for example, eating a plant-based diet, losing weight if he needs to and exercising regularly.

Partnering with the Doctor for Prevention

Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies must provide preventive care services annually for free when provided by a doctor in your insurance network, so cost shouldn’t be an excuse. For more information about preventive tests for adults, visit