Men go to their primary care physician when they’re sick, their dentist for cleanings and dental work, and an ophthalmologist to get their eyes checked. But who should they see for such sensitive issues as erectile dysfunction or a lump in their testicle? For these and other male-specific conditions, a urologist is the best choice.
Sometimes a specialist is best
Yes, a general practitioner can diagnose and treat most male urologic issues, but a urologist specializes in this field of medicine and sees these disorders all the time.
At Westchester Health, we know it’s tough for some men to admit that they need to see a urologist, but especially as they get older, it’s really important for them to heed certain warning signs of potentially life-threatening problems while they can still be effectively treated. So that men, and women, can be informed as to what those signs are, we talk about the 10 most common (and urgent) ones here.
10 signs that mean you should see a urologist
There are many reasons men might need to consult with a urologist, who is specially trained to identify and diagnose the problem, determine the level of severity and provide treatment options. VERY IMPORTANT: The sooner you catch a potential health issue, the better the chances of treating it before it develops into something more serious.
1. Erectile dysfunction (ED)
Erectile dysfunction, or the inability to achieve or maintain an erect penis, affects sexual performance but can also reveal vascular disease, hypertension (high blood pressure) and renal failure. Even though many men find it embarrassing to talk about ED, it’s crucial to evaluate and treat any underlying conditions as early as possible. We’ve written a blog about foods that can help with ED, which you can access here.
2. Blood in your urine
If you are experiencing this, you need to see a urologist immediately, as it could be an early warning sign of bladder or kidney cancer. Even if you only experience blood in your urine from time to time, it signals a condition that needs immediate attention. This would include urine tests, an x-ray or CT scan, and a cystoscopy (using a fiberoptic scope to see inside the bladder).
3. Testicular pain, lump or masses
When testicular pain is persistent and does not go away within two weeks, you should see a urologist because it might be a sign of testicular cancer. Fortunately, when caught early, cancer found in the testes is one of the most curable cancers.
4. Abnormal prostate exam
Men over the age of 40 are advised to get a yearly prostate exam by their primary healthcare provider. If any firmness, small nodules or irregularities are detected, they should be referred to a urologist who will determine if there are any potential problems. If caught early, prostate cancer has a high cure rate. We’ve written a blog about this, which you can access here.
5. Difficulty urinating
While not life-threatening, difficulty with urination can be uncomfortable. This is typically caused by an enlarged prostate and is a common symptom of getting older. Fortunately, this condition can be treated with medications that relieve the symptoms or even shrink the prostate to help with urination.
6. Painful urination
Infections can occur in any part of the urinary tract, most often caused by bacteria. A urologist can determine the cause of such an infection and recommend targeted treatment.
7. Frequent urination or the urge to urinate often
If you’re experiencing incontinence (leaking urine), you should see a urologist. Urinary incontinence is fairly common and can usually be managed or treated successfully.
8. An elevated or change in your Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) level
The PSA test is often used as a way to detect early prostate cancer. Typically, a very low level of PSA is found in every man’s bloodstream. When there is a change or a higher level of PSA in the blood, you should see a urologist to find out the cause so it can be treated and hopefully reversed. We’ve written a blog about this, which you can access here.
9. Kidney abnormality
If your doctor detects anything unusual on an X-ray, he/she should refer you to a urologist.
10. Male infertility
Though rare, male infertility, including decreased sexual desire, can be a sign of testicular cancer and you should be seen by a urologist right away.
More than a specialist, your urologist is your healthcare partner
At Westchester Health, we feel strongly that a urologist should be part of your overall health maintenance routine. Even though urologic problems are sensitive topics to talk about, it’s very important that you and your urologist feel comfortable with each other and can discuss any issues that are going on with you. Together, you can achieve the best possible level of health.
To know more, read our blogs on the subject
We’ve written a number of highly informative blogs focusing on urologic conditions, which you can read here.
Helpful websites we recommend
Want to know more about urologic warning signs? Please come see us.
If you’re experiencing any of the above signs or symptoms, please call (914) 232-1919 to make an appointment with one of our Westchester Health urologists. We’ll examine you, evaluate your symptoms, maybe perform some tests, and together with you, decide on the best treatment going forward, given your individual health needs. Whenever, wherever you need us, we’re here for you.
By Jerry Weinberg, MD, a urologist with Westchester Health, member of Westchester Health Physician Partners