Medical tests are funny things. They are a snap-shot of one single aspect of your body’s condition at a single moment in time. It isn’t until you have repeated at least a few medical tests and established a baseline for your normal that the doctor has an idea of your health patterns.
Of course, a single test that shows an extreme response or condition will result in some action on the part of the doctor. For most of us, though, it takes a while to see how our body functions as ‘normal’.
It is extremely important to be aware of daily activity that can affect outcome of tests. I have a friend who called me in a panic because his PSA test had jumped several points over the course of a year. He had himself diagnosed with cancer and facing his mortality within hours of getting the results.
I asked him what he had done the day before. He had been part of a 40 mile bike race. I asked him if he had been sexually active. “Of course,” he said. “After a race like that, I always have great sex with my wife.” Had he told his doctor this? No. It just so happens that both of those activities can greatly affect his PSA score.
Sure enough, he called his doctor back, told him what he had been doing, and the doctor told him not to worry about it and scheduled him for another PSA test – with a request to avoid sexual activity or biking for a day or so before hand. The next test was perfectly normal.
When your doctor enters the examination room and asks you how you have been, it’s not just a polite conversation starter. Be sure to tell him what you have just been doing. I often encourage guys to tell their doctor the best thing and the worst thing that has happened to them since the last visit.