Michelle Rupp: Hello and welcome to this week’s edition of AFMC TV. We’re so glad you joined us. Today’s show is going to be centered around the men in our lives. We’re going to kick things off with Dr. Byron Curtner and men’s health. Good morning. Thanks for joining us. So, men, generally kind of difficult to get them to get those checkups. Why is that?

Dr. Byron Curtner: Well, if you don’t understand men, you’re just thinking too hard. We just aren’t smart. We just make bad decisions. That’s all there is.

MR: A few have made some good decisions.

BC: Yeah.

MR: So how do we even start that conversation? I mean, guys know they probably need to go to the doctor, right?

BC: Yeah, I think everybody at least over 40 and certainly over 50, you know, ought to make an effort just to go to see the doctor once a year when they don’t have anything wrong. You know. You may have seen the doctor for a sprained ankle or cold or something, but generally, your provider doesn’t have time to do the health maintenance and preventive things you need. So once a year, you ought to show up and just, you know, have him go over, you have them be sure that you’re caught up on the preventive things you need to have done.

MR: And is that something that can be accomplished just by seeing your primary care?

BC: Yeah, absolutely. That’s what primary care doctors do. But it is important to go for a physical for health maintenance, that’s for that reason.

MR: So, when you even broach the subject with a male about going to the doctor, it’s oh, I’ll do that later, or nothing’s hurting. I feel fine. What is it about the white coat or the blue coat that makes them so resistant?

BC: Well, it’s a good question. I don’t have a good answer for that. And I think it’s probably different for different people and you know, it’s not just men, it’s women too. Some people are busy, some are scared of the doctor, and sometimes it’s a cost thing. So, it’s different things for different people. I don’t think it’s a one-size-fits-all.

MR: Okay. How can we reduce some of that hesitancy or anxiety and just get checked out? It’s going to be okay. 

BC: I think it’s important to keep in mind that you don’t have to do anything you’re uncomfortable with. You know, some people don’t go to the doctor because I don’t want this done. I don’t want that. I think it’s really important to remember that if you tell the doctor upfront, you know, “this is something that I’ve made the decision that I don’t want,” that the doctor respect that. So, sometimes that will make it a little easier if you go in with the idea that I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to.

MR: What are, I know there are certain milestones, particularly when you start to age in terms of 40, maybe 45 – 50, some preventative screenings that men need. They might need to see someone other than a primary care physician, correct?

BC: Generally, you know, primary care physicians are in the business of preventive medicine and health maintenance. And so certainly, you may very well want to have a colonoscopy at 50 or even younger, depending on your medical history. And, of course, that will probably be done by a specialist, a gastroenterologist. If you have an elevated screening test for prostate cancer, you probably want to see a urologist. But the screening and the scheduling for health maintenance can be done through your primary care provider. That’s a big part of what they do. So going to your primary care doctor is a good place for the first start for a preventive maintenance exam or health maintenance exam.

MR: So, take me through, what would a primary care, what would one of those screenings look like coming from your primary care physician?

BC: You know, I think it’s different for every doctor. Some are very formal. Some doctors have a formal process that everybody goes through, a protocol that everyone does. Most of us just generally scheduled people for a little extra time. When I was in practice, I usually scheduled my physicals first thing in the morning. It gave us an opportunity to go over someone’s past medical history, get some routine labs, and go ahead and see what issues they needed to address. You know, some people have already had their colon cancer screening. Some people hadn’t. Just to make sure they’re up on everything. So, in my practice, it was a little more of an informal talk.

MR: So, it’s nothing to be scared of. You’re going to listen to their heart. You might take a little blood and check those cholesterol levels.

BC: You know, and certainly, you would try to talk to the patient about taking a little blood. You know, occasionally someone says I don’t want that, and that’s perfectly okay as long as they understand, you know if they make an informed decision they don’t want to have done, and then that’s up to them.

MR: Sure. I love the idea of just having that baseline, you know, and then we don’t have to worry about it for a year. We may never have to worry about it, but at least we know where we’re starting from. Right?

BC: Exactly. Right. Yeah.

MR: Okay. Any last parting thoughts to our gentleman who may be watching that in the back of their mind they’re thinking, “yeah, I know I should really go have this done.”

BC: Yeah. And you know, some things are very, very important but they’re not urgent, so we tend to put them off till it’s too late. It’s something that we all need to do, and I’m overdue myself, you know, so I need to do that. I need to do it too.

MR: And by and large, insurance covers this, right? 

BC: Oh yes. Nearly all insurance covers it.

MR: Okay. So, you’re not talking about a lot of out-of-pocket, if any?

BC: For most people, no.

MR: Yeah. Okay. All right, Dr. Curtner, thanks so much for stopping by today.

BC: Thanks for having me.

MR: Get that appointment.