What is a urologist?
A urologist is a physician who specializes in diagnosing and treating urinary tract diseases. The urinary tract includes the bladder, kidneys, ureters and urethra. For men, specifically, urologists treat issues with the male organs, including the penis, testes, scrotum and prostate. A urologist also treats conditions involving the reproductive organs and the adrenal glands.
When should I see a urologist?
“Seeing a urologist is essential for men of a certain age to maintain good health,” said Edward Loizides, MD, Chief of Urology at Good Samaritan University Hospital. “Talk to your primary care physician about when you should start seeing a urologist as part of your annual health checkups and screenings. Factors such as age, family history and ethnicity will inform that decision.”
Dr. Loizides recommends seeing a urologist as soon as possible if you have urologic symptoms or a history of urologic conditions such as kidney stones, blood in the urine or a urinary infection.
Why should I see a urologist?
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). BPH—a noncancerous condition in which the prostate grows in size—is the most common prostate problem that men experience. Your prostate changes as you age and continues to grow throughout your life, which can cause complications. Almost all men will develop some enlargement in their prostate as they age.
By the age of 60, about 50% of men will have symptoms of BPH. By the age of 85, about 90% will have symptoms of BPH. Nearly half of all men with BPH will develop symptoms that require treatment by a urologist.
Because an enlarged prostate causes a blockage in your urethra, BPH symptoms typically include trouble urinating.
Prostate cancer and other cancer screenings. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men. As part of routine screening, a urologist will order a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test to measure the protein produced by the prostate gland’s normal cells and cancer cells. A urologist will also perform a digital rectal exam (DRE) in addition to the PSA test for more accurate cancer detection.
PSA levels vary because no specific normal or abnormal PSA level exists. Your urologist will discuss when and how frequently you should begin screening for prostate cancer.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends talking to your doctor about PSA testing starting at age 55.
“You should talk to your doctor sooner, at age 40, if you have a family history of prostate cancer or are of African-American descent,” said Dr. Loizides.
In addition to prostate cancer, a urologist can also discuss what you need to know about adrenal gland cancer, bladder cancer, kidney cancer, penile cancer and testicular cancer.
Testicular cancer is less common than prostate cancer, but testicular changes can happen as men age. A urologist can check for abnormalities like growths or lumps and discuss how you can perform an at-home testicular exam in-between visits.
Kidney stones—small stones formed in the kidneys from crystalizing urine—are caused by chemical imbalances and slowly grow over time. Some men experience kidney stones throughout their lives. Others show symptoms as they age. Kidney stones can become extremely painful and may require medical treatment if the stone does not pass through urination.
Make an appointment with a urologist immediately if you have symptoms like blood in your urine.
Sexual health and fertility issues
A urologist can help address concerns such as erectile dysfunction (ED), which occurs most frequently in men in their late 40s and early 50s. A urologist can help determine the cause of your ED and offer treatment options.
A urologist will also help evaluate and determine the next steps for men concerned about their reproductive health.
Hematuria (blood in the urine)
Hematuria should be evaluated immediately by your urologist to determine if the blood in your urine indicates a treatable infection or a more serious condition that requires additional testing.
How does a urologist diagnose and treat my condition?
Diagnostic tools vary depending on your reason for a urology visit but may include imaging tests (MRI, ultrasound), blood tests or in-office exams like a DRE.
Treatment methods also vary depending on your diagnosis. A urologist can perform surgery, including minimally invasive surgeries, that treat urinary tract disorders.
A urologist will work closely with your PCP and specialists to create a comprehensive treatment plan.
Find Care at Catholic Health
Maintaining urologic health is important as you age. Routine checkups can help catch medical issues early and when they are most treatable. Talk to your PCP about when you should start seeing a urologist.
At Catholic Health, we make it easy for you to find care across Long Island. Call 866-MY-LI-DOC (866-695-4362) to find a physician near you.