“Why am I forgetting things?”
While minor forgetfulness, like forgetting names, misplacing objects, or having word retrieval issues, happen frequently as people get older, if you find yourself consistently forgetting important details—or if your forgetfulness is negatively impacting your life—it’s time to consult your doctor.
The main difference between age-related memory loss and dementia is that in normal aging, the forgetfulness does not interfere with your ability to carry on with normal daily activities. In contrast, dementia is characterized by marked, persistent, and disabling decline in two or more intellectual abilities, such as memory, language, judgment, or abstract reasoning, that significantly interfere with and disrupt your normal daily activities.
“Am I healthy enough to maintain my current exercise routine?”
If you’re an avid exerciser, the thought of giving up your preferred workout routine as you get older may seem like a depressing prospect. But it’s wise to discuss your routine with your doctor and see if it needs modification. After all, if you get injured while exercising, things will only be worse. According to a 2013 study published in BMJ Open, among a group of nearly 170 older adults, 14 percent reported exercise-related injuries.
“Can I still have kids?”
If you’re over 40 and are still interested in having a baby, talk to your doctor about your options—but remember that time is of the essence when it comes to reproductive health. As long as you’re producing sperm, it’s still possible to still have children, but as you get older the quality of the sperm decreases. Having children later in life can sometimes lead to more problems in your offspring because your body can produce defective sperm, which can result in mutations in the DNA.
“Are my testosterone levels normal?”
It’s important for men to have their testosterone levels tested, especially after their 40th birthday has come and gone. Symptoms of low testosterone can start small and quickly become serious. Men with low testosterone could experience cardiovascular risks.
According to a 2017 study published in the Methodist DeBakey Cardiovascular Journal, low levels of testosterone may even increase the risk of developing coronary artery disease, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes.
“How often should I be screened for prostate cancer?”
Once you reach middle-age, it’s time to ask your doctor how often you need to be screened for prostate cancer—especially if you have a family history of the disease or are African American. Since one in nine men are diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime, the Prostate Cancer Foundation says it’s recommended that every male get a baseline PSA (prostate-specific antigen), a test that identifies those who are at a higher risk.
“Should I take an STD test?”
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are thought of as a young person’s problem. But the STD rate in older adults is also high—mostly because of not getting screened or treated, as well as a change in the immune system. You can catch sexually transmitted infections at any age whether you’re 17 or 70.
According to Harvard Medical School, rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis are highest among older adults ages 45 to 54. Be sure to bring it up at your next appointment—especially if you’re dating and not using protection.
“Do I need a colonoscopy?”
If you don’t have inflammatory bowel disease or a personal or family history of colorectal cancer, you’ll want to begin regular colonoscopy screenings at 45 years old, according to the American Cancer Society. (And if you do, you should start sooner—which is something your doctor will be able to help you with.) Sure, it’s no fun to have a colonoscopy, but for most people, it’s only recommended once every 10 years.
“What’s up with my decreased libido?”
Your sex drive can take a hit in your 40s. For men, it can be a result of natural aging or an underlying health condition like depression or stress, says the Mayo Clinic. Certain medications can also cause a decrease in your libido. If you’re experiencing any problems like this, there are plenty of options you can discuss with your doctor to ensure you feel like yourself again.
“Why do I have to pee all the time?”
An overactive bladder can really get in the way of your day-to-day. According to the Urology Care Foundation, it becomes more of an issue as you age—30 percent of older men have an overactive bladder. This condition not only requires frequent bathroom trips during the day, but can also wake you up at night. So it’s a good idea to bring it up to your doctor to find out how to manage it before it starts interfering with your wellbeing.