It can be challenging to keep track of all the tests, vaccines, and preventive health measures a man needs to be healthy throughout life. That may be one reason why a recent American Academy of Family Physicians survey found that male patients often don’t take prescriptions as directed or get routine tests that doctors ordered.

On the plus side, 61 percent of men say they’ve seen a doctor in the last six months or less, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Developing a relationship with your primary healthcare provider is a smart move, says John Meigs, Jr., M.D., president of the AAFP and a family doctor in Centreville, Ala. “It’s extremely important that men—and women—have a regular source of care that they see on some kind of regular basis,” he says.

To help men safeguard their health, we’ve gathered recommendations from the CDC, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (the USPSTF is an independent medical panel of national experts), and CR's Choosing Wisely campaign, as well as experts in men’s and preventive healthcare.

Here are the screening tests and vaccinations men need and the smart steps they should take in their 20s and 30s; 40s and 50s; and 60s and beyond. (Here's a similar checklist for women.)

What Men Should Do in Their 20s and 30s

Vaccinations

  • Flu shot, every year.
  • Tetanus booster, every 10 years.
  • Whooping cough vaccine (Tdap booster) unless you’re certain you’ve already had one as a preteen or teenager.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, if you’re under 21 and haven’t received it yet; or if you’re under 26 and have sex with men.

Screening Tests

  • Sexually transmitted disease: If you’re sexually active and have sex with men, get screened at least once a year for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. And all men should get tested for HIV at least once. According to the CDC, everyone between ages 13 and 65 should be tested during their lifetime. (If you have certain risk factors, you'll need additional screenings.)
  • Blood pressure: Have it checked at least once every two years.
  • Cholesterol: Starting at age 35, have your cholesterol tested every three to five years, depending on results. If you have high blood pressure, a family history of heart disease, or other cardiac risk factors, have a blood test for cholesterol at age 25.
  • Type 2 diabetes: If you’re overweight or obese, have a family history of diabetes, or have high blood pressure or cholesterol, test with a fasting blood glucose test and an HbA1c test to measure long-term blood sugar control every three years, depending on results.

Review With Your Doctor

  • Sexual history and condom use.
  • Diet, exercise, and sleep habits.
  • Smoking, alcohol consumption, and any substance use habits.

Men’s Health Tips

Early adulthood is an ideal time to develop an ongoing working relationship with a family or primary care doctor, Meigs says. That way, you’ll have someone you trust—and who is familiar with your lifestyle and health history—to talk to about any health concerns.

That is important when it comes to diseases that may be uncomfortable to discuss or that don't get regularly screened for, such as testicular cancer, Meigs says. In this case, for example, some men might ignore symptoms, and the USPSTF recommends against regular screening for the cancer, since it is relatively rare and has a high survival rate.

Still, testicular cancer is the most common cancer among men age 15 to 34. If you do discover a lump or have pain in a testicle, it’s important to tell your doctor.

And while the CDC’s baseline recommendations for yearly STD screenings are directed mainly at women and at men who have sex with men, Ana Fadich, M.P.H., vice president of the nonprofit health education group Men’s Health Network, says all men should consider STD testing any time they change sexual partners.

Men will need to request this screening at the doctor’s office, says Fadich, since there’s no men's health equivalent of the well-woman visit, in which STD screenings are routine.

What Men Should Do in Their 40s and 50s

Vaccinations

  • Flu shot, every year.
  • Tetanus booster, every 10 years.

Screening Tests

  • Sexually transmitted disease: If you’re sexually active and have sex with men, get screened at least once a year for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis.
  • Blood pressure: Have it checked at least once every two years.
  • Cholesterol: Continue blood tests for cholesterol every three to five years, depending on results.
  • Type 2 diabetes: If you’re overweight or obese, have a family history of diabetes, or have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, test with a fasting blood glucose test and an HbA1c test to measure long-term blood sugar control every three years, depending on results.
  • Colon cancer: At age 50, talk to your doctor about having either a colonoscopy every 10 years, a stool test every year, or sigmoidoscopy every five years with a stool test every three years. Other colon cancer screening options are available; ask your doctor what may be best for you.
  • Prostate cancer: Regular prostate specific antigen (PSA) tests, which may detect prostate cancer, may not be necessary. If you’re concerned about prostate cancer, talk with your doctor at 50 or earlier about whether you’re at increased risk.

Review With Your Doctor

  • Sexual history and condom use.
  • Diet, exercise, and sleep habits.
  • Smoking, alcohol consumption, and any substance use habits.

Men’s Health Tips

During these years, your cardiovascular risk factors, such as high blood pressure and weight gain, might rise, Meigs says.

And since metabolism naturally slows with age, he says, it’s especially important for men in this age group to stay active and keep up with good eating habits. That will help you maintain a healthy weight and reduce heart disease risks.

When it comes to prostate cancer screening, “That requires a conversation with your doctor,” Meigs says. The USPSTF is currently updating its guideline on prostate cancer screening, and experts differ on whether men should be routinely checked for signs of the cancer using a PSA test.

Talk with your doctor about your personal risk profile for prostate cancer; people who have a family history of prostate cancer or who are African-American or of African descent might be at higher risk.

What Men Should Do in Their 60s and Beyond

Vaccinations

  • Flu shot, every year.
  • Tetanus booster, every 10 years.
  • Shingles vaccine, once at age 60.
  • Two pneumonia vaccines, starting at 65. The CDC recommends a dose of what’s known as PCV13 (Prevnar) first. At least one year later, get a dose of PPSV23 (Pneumovax).

Screening Tests

  • Sexually transmitted disease: If you’re sexually active and have sex with men, get screened at least once a year for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis.
  • Blood pressure: Have it checked at least once every two years.
  • Cholesterol: Continue blood tests for cholesterol every three to five years, depending on results.
  • Type 2 diabetes: If you’re overweight or obese, have a family history of diabetes, or have high blood pressure or cholesterol, test with a fasting blood glucose test and an HbA1c test to measure long-term blood sugar control every three years, depending on results.
  • Colon cancer: Continue screening with a colonoscopy every 10 years, a stool test every year, or sigmoidoscopy every five years with a stool test every three years. Other colon cancer screening options exist; ask your doctor about which may be best for you. You can stop colon cancer screening at age 75.
  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm: If you’ve ever smoked, have an ultrasound to test for abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA)—an enlarged area in the aorta that can rupture if it gets too large—some time between age 65 and 75.

Review With Your Doctor

  • Sexual history and condom use.
  • Diet, exercise, and sleep habits.
  • Smoking, alcohol consumption, and any substance use habits.

Men’s Health Tips

Losing a partner or ending a relationship can return you to the singles pool—which can come with an increased risk of contracting an STD, Fadich says. That's why it's wise to continue using condoms with sex, even if pregnancy is no longer a risk for your partner.

It’s important to keep tabs on your brainpower and mental health as well. “At this age, folks begin to worry about getting forgetful,” Meigs says.

Staying socially involved and physically active can be good for your emotional well-being and cognition, he notes. A recent study from the British Journal of Sports Medicine shows that aerobic exercise and strength training, as well as tai chi, can all improve brain function in people over 50, even for those who are beginning to experience cognitive decline.

Try to keep up with a regular exercise routine: The CDC recommends 30 minutes per day five days a week of aerobic exercise and two days per week of strength training for older adults.