The Truth About When and Why Men Should See a Urologist
Urologists play a key role in keeping men’s prostate, urinary, and sexual health on track. They’re the go-to specialists for prostate cancer screening as men age; however, there’s a preconceived notion that this is all they do.
Men don’t have to wait to see a urologist until they are older; they should seek help whenever they experience concerning symptoms, such as urinary discomfort, blood in their urine, changes in erectile function, or anything else that causes pain or disrupts daily functionality.
“Many urological issues can occur earlier in adulthood, before the discussion about prostate cancer screening even begins,” said Jefferson Health Urologist Dr. Paul H. Chung. “Men should try to keep an open dialogue with their primary care providers and ask about seeing a urologist when they need to.”
Reaching out for help doesn’t have to be embarrassing; it’s important for men to know that they’re not alone in experiencing these kinds of symptoms, explains Dr. Chung. Urinary and erectile issues are incredibly common. Luckily, with proper treatment, function can often be restored to what it was previously.
For men who think their symptoms will go away on their own, know that the longer care is delayed, the greater the likelihood for more severe outcomes, adds Dr. Chung. Being proactive is essential. Urological conditions can be prevented, treated, and managed; they can even detect other serious health conditions. For example, studies have shown that erectile dysfunction can often be one of the first signs of cardiovascular disease.
“Don’t just think about how you’re affected in the short-term, but how you can protect yourself in the long-term,” continued Dr. Chung.
What can you expect at your first urology visit?
Like most other first-time medical visits, it’s important for us to get a clear understanding of your family history, your symptoms, how long they’ve persisted, and how they’re interfering with your daily life, explains Dr. Chung. This is usually followed by a quick physical exam. Your urologist may want to order additional tests or studies to correctly diagnose what is wrong.
What are some of the most common male urological conditions?
- Erectile dysfunction impacts nearly half of all men over the age of 40 to some extent – although it can occur sooner – and can be caused by a variety of physical and psychological factors. Studies have shown direct links to ED from heavy smoking, high blood sugar, and heart disease. Dr. Chung notes that it’s important to acknowledge the psychosocial impacts caused by ED, which often interfere with personal value, confidence, and relationships.
- Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), or benign enlargement of the prostate, is also incredibly common, impacting at least 50 percent of men over the age of 50. BPH typically causes discomfort and difficulty urinating (i.e., increased frequency, especially at night; trouble starting to urinate; and incontinence). If not properly treated, an enlarged prostate can lead to infection and even kidney damage. While there’s no sure way to prevent it, studies have shown that staying active and eating healthy can lower the risk.
- Prostate Cancer is the second most common cancer developed among men in the U.S. (next to skin cancer), impacting around one in every nine men. Both ED and difficulty urinating can be warning signs. Men are most at risk after the age of 65, unless they have a family history. For men with no family history, they can typically wait to undergo screening (via physical exam or PSA blood test) until age 55 or older, says Dr. Chung. When detected early, prostate cancer can be cured; nearly 90 percent of all prostate cancer cases are found early and effectively treated.
The answer is simple: don’t. Urologists can benefit men in many ways, opening up doors to other aspects of their health, ensuring that everything is taken care of.
Dr. Paul H. Chung is an Assistant Professor of Urology at Thomas Jefferson University. At Jefferson Health in New Jersey, he practices at Cherry Hill Primary & Specialty Care.
For more information on Urology services offered at Jefferson Health in New Jersey, click HERE.