An urologist is a physician who specializes in disorders of the urinary tract and the external genital organs. These include the kidneys, ureters, urethra, bladder, penis, and prostate – Dr. Yassir Jassim, Urology Specialist at Canadian Specialist Hospital
It’s not always easy to know when you should see an urologist. But make no mistake: Scheduling an appointment can save you a lot of discomfort and pain, and it could even save your life.
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, then it is time to make that appointment:
- Recurrent urinary tract infections
If you experience burning, painful and frequent urination that doesn’t improve with antibiotics, it could be a sign that you have interstitial cystitis (IC), also known as a painful bladder. A urologist will test your urine and examine your bladder with a cystoscope to make the diagnosis. IC can be treated with anti-inflammatory drugs and can also be prevented by avoiding certain triggers, typically alcohol, spicy foods, caffeine and chocolate.
- Urinary incontinence and overactive bladder
The definition of urinary incontinence in men is the unintentional loss of urine. Weak or damaged bladder muscles, overactive bladder muscles, certain prostate conditions, and nerve damage are just some of the possible underlying causes of urinary incontinence in men.
Incontinence can happen for many reasons:
- If your bladder squeezes at the wrong time, or if it squeezes too hard, urine may leak out.
- If the muscles around the urethra are damaged or weak, urine can leak out even if you don’t have a problem with your bladder squeezing at the wrong time.
- You can also have incontinence if your bladder doesn’t empty when it should. This leaves too much urine in the bladder. If the bladder gets too full, urine will leak out when you don’t want it to.
- If something is blocking your urethra, urine can build up in the bladder and cause leaking.
Urinary incontinence happens more often in older men than in young men, but it’s not just a normal part of aging.
- Interstitial cystitis
Interstitial cystitis (IC)/bladder pain syndrome (BPS) is a chronic bladder health issue. It is a feeling of pain and pressure in the bladder area. Along with this pain are lower urinary tract symptoms which have lasted for more than 6 weeks, without having an infection or other clear causes.
Prostatitis is swelling and inflammation of the prostate gland, a walnut-sized gland situated directly below the bladder in men. The prostate gland produces fluid (semen) that nourishes and transports sperm. Prostatitis often causes painful or difficult urination.
- Enlarged prostate
In men, urine flows from the bladder through the urethra. BPH is a benign (noncancerous) enlargement of the prostate that blocks the flow of urine through the urethra. The prostate cells gradually multiply, creating an enlargement that puts pressure on the urethra — the “chute” through which urine and semen exit the body.
Over time, the bladder muscle may gradually become stronger, thicker, and overly sensitive; it begins to contract even when it contains small amounts of urine, causing a need to urinate frequently. Eventually, the bladder muscle cannot overcome the effect of the narrowed urethra so urine remains in the bladder and it is not completely emptied.
- Pelvic Pain
Pain in the pelvic area has many causes, which can include IC, prostate inflammation, prostate infection, bladder cancer and kidney cancer. Your urologist can help diagnose the cause and provide treatment.
- Kidney stones
Kidney stones are the result of a buildup of dissolved minerals on the inner lining of the kidneys. The stones may be small and pass unnoticed through the urinary tract, but they can also cause extreme pain as they leave the body. Kidney stones are most notably marked by severe pain on one side of your lower back, though other symptoms include nagging stomach pain, blood in the urine and urine that smells bad or looks cloudy. Kidney stones that remain inside the body can also lead to many complications, including blockage of the tube connecting the kidney to the bladder, which obstructs the path that urine uses to leave the body.
According to research, people with kidney stones have a significantly higher risk of developing chronic kidney disease.
- Male and female infertility
If you and your partner haven’t been able to conceive for six months to a year, you may want to see a urologist for a fertility checkup. Deficiencies in the male partner accounts for a significant percentage of infertility among couples. Detailed investigations like hormonal profiles and testicular biopsy are available to diagnose the cause of this condition.
- Sexual dysfunction (male or female)
Impotence or Erectile Dysfunction: An urologist is often the first doctor a man will turn to if he’s having difficulty getting or maintaining an erection. The problem can be a psychological one, but more often than not there’s an underlying medical or physical cause. Men suffering from this depressing condition are subjected to extensive investigations like Hormone Assay, Penile Doppler etc. Following this the appropriate treatment schedules are offered.
- Cancers throughout the urinary tract (such as kidney, bladder, prostate, penile, and testicular cancers)
Cancer is when cells in the body grow out of control, often forming a mass or tumor. In upper urinary tract cancer, abnormal cells are found in the:
- Renal pelvis (where urine collects in the kidneys before it travels to the ureters and bladder)
- Renal calyces (spaces deep in the kidneys)
- Ureters (thin tubes, made of muscle, which move urine from the kidney to the bladder)
Cancers of the upper urinary tract are relatively rare.