The Importance of Urological Health in Men
Urological health is vital to every man’s wellbeing. Learn what urologists do and when to see one.
When was the last time you scheduled an appointment with a urologist?
Urology is the branch of medicine that focuses on the health of the urinary-tract system, in addition to male reproductive health. While consulting a doctor who specializes in these areas may make you uneasy or uncomfortable, it shouldn’t.
You see, urological health is vital to your wellbeing. And your urologist is meant to be a healthcare partner who looks out for your best interests in those areas of your body.
What do urologists examine?
Urologists are trained to examine, manage, and treat the urinary tract and male reproductive system. As the name indicates, the urinary system, (also known as the renal system or urinary tract) eliminates urine, controls electrolytes, and regulates blood pressure and blood pH. It consists of the following organs:1
- Adrenal glands: glands that release hormones, located on top of the kidneys
- Bladder: the muscular, hollow sac in the pelvis that stores urine
- Kidneys: organs that filter and remove waste from the blood and subsequently produce urine
- Ureters: tubes that transport urine from the kidneys to the bladder
- Urethra: a tube where urine exits the body from the bladder
Urologists treat symptoms involving these organs as well as those involving the male reproductive system: the penis, prostate, and testicles. The areas they often focus on include:2
- Enlarged prostate: An enlarged prostate isn’t completely out of the ordinary as men get older, but that doesn’t mean it’s comfortable. An enlarged prostate can lead to blocked urine flow, increased frequency of urination (especially at night), difficulty starting urination or a weak flow, or inability to completely empty the bladder. To address these issues, a urologist might examine the prostate and offer prescriptions to relieve symptoms. Minimally invasive procedures or surgery can be performed if needed.3
- Prostate cancer screening: Men should talk to a urologist about the benefits of routine prostate screenings. Just having one prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test in your 40s can help predict your overall risk of prostate cancer, as well as determine the course of action your urologist might take moving forward. If your PSA is 0.7 or lower, your risk of prostate cancer is at less than 10%, and you may only need to be screened every five years.2 Conversely, men with a PSA of 1 or higher require more frequent screening.2
- Erectile dysfunction: While the cause of erectile dysfunction isn’t always physical, a urologist can perform a blood test, check your hormones, and usually prescribe a solution that will increase blood flow to the penis. Since the condition could be a sign of other health problems, your urologist may take this opportunity to also assess any potential risks for hypertension, renal failure, and/or vascular conditions.4
- Vasectomy: This safe, voluntary outpatient procedure is ideal for men who no longer wish to conceive children. Before scheduling a vasectomy, men should consult with their urologist for more information and understand the pros and cons. The practitioner can offer insights into the procedure and help the patient make an informed decision.
These are just a few of the more common reasons patients may be seen by urologists.
Why see a urologist?
Urologists may be able to recommend preventative measures to encourage good urological health, uncover (or resolve) male reproductive issues, and treat urinary infections or illnesses.4 Whether you’re facing a minor issue or a chronic health problem, you’ll want to know exactly what’s going on in that area of your body—and a urologist can help keep you healthy.
While some people might associate urology with pain, this is more of a stereotype than a reality. During most invasive procedures, men can expect an anesthetic to numb the affected area. Admittedly, patients might feel pressure or movement from time to time, but they shouldn’t experience pain or significant discomfort.
Early detection for any illness is crucial, so don’t let your worries take over common sense. Men in their 40s and 50s—if they aren’t already doing so—should start seeing their urologist regularly to stay on top of their urological health.
This content is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Individuals should always consult with their healthcare professional for advice on medical issues.
- Healthline Staff (n.d.). Faces of Healthcare: What Is a Urologist? Healthline. Accessed December 21, 2018.
- Klein E. Men Over 40: Start Seeing a Urologist Regularly. Cleveland Clinic. 2013. Accessed December 21, 2018.
- National Association for Continence. https://www.nafc.org/enlarged-prostate/. Accessed January 17, 2019.
- Park H. The World Journal of Men’s Health. 2017;35(2):57-58.