At this time of year, one little sentence can strike fear into the hearts of men.

Because of the timing of this article, you might think those words are: “So what did you get me for Valentine’s Day?” Feb. 14, of course, is the day most of us celebrate the martyrdom of Saint Valentine—the third century Roman priest who after his death became the patron saint of Hallmark Cards (NASDAQ: HALL - $18.37 up .04 as of this writing).

The question about gifts on Feb. 14 sends men everywhere scurrying for greeting cards, chocolates, flowers and dinner reservations at Red Lobster. Nothing says I love you like a night of all-you-can-eat popcorn shrimp.

I say “most of us” celebrate this way because some people use the day to mark holy feasts on the Catholic, Anglican or Lutheran church calendars. Al Capone celebrated by killing rival Irish gangsters in a Chicago garage.

But I digress.

The sentence that really instills fear into men this time of year is: “Turn your head and cough.”

Yes, everyone’s health insurance has rolled over into a new calendar year and it’s time for our annual physical. Like running the car in for a quick oil, filter and lube, it is time for men to check the timing on all our internal systems. It’s a traumatic time for us.

The same appointments are being made by women, but the experience is different for men. The male of the species would rather binge watch British baking shows than get their annual checkup. This is due to two scientifically proven facts:

- First, and foremost, when it comes to visiting the doctor, men are big babies. A recent study at the Mayo Clinic compared the mental and physical reactions of men being told they had to go to the doctor versus a control group of men who were drinking at an Irish pub. While both groups eventually curled up under a table in the fetal position, the men at the pub were smiling.

- Secondly, prior to an annual checkup, men tend to self-diagnose themselves with diseases, some of which have yet to be discovered. If a woman gets a sore knee, she simply takes an ibuprofen and goes about her day. A male will also take an anti-inflammatory, but will then spend the entire day online researching symptoms on medical websites trying to convince himself he needs a knee replacement.

Maybe if Hallmark made a greeting card for men encouraging them to get a checkup, it would be easier.

On the cover: a doctor in a white lab coat, peering over a pair of wire rimmed glasses

The inside greeting:

It’s time to visit,

So we can see,

The pH level,

In your pee.

It won’t sell as much as Valentine’s Day cards, but it may get a few more of us in for our annual physical.

By the way, did you know that St. Valentine’s actual skull is on display in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Rome? Talk about a guy who should have kept up with his annual leechings.