Your Guide to Knowing When to Visit the Urologist
A urologist specializes in diseases of the urinary tract for both men and women, as well as the male reproductive system. The urinary tract consists of the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra; meanwhile, the male reproductive system includes the male testes, prostate, and penis.
You may already be seeing a urologist for regular checkups — and if this is the case for you, then you’re off to a great start! But, how do you know when there is a problem with your urinary health that requires attention from a specialist? We’re here to show you the 10 signs that let you know when to visit the urologist.
Signs to Visit the Urologist
1. Blood in Your Urine
Discovering blood in your urine can be a sign that something is wrong with your kidneys or another part of your urinary tract — and should never be ignored. Blood in your urine can be a warning sign of kidney stones, kidney or bladder cancer, an enlarged prostate, or a bladder infection. Since blood in your urine is more than likely a symptom of an underlying issue, your urologist will suggest treatment options depending on what is causing it.
2. Testicular Pain or Lumps
If you experience testicular pain or notice an unusual lump, you need to visit the urologist. These are both symptoms of a scrotal mass, which needs to be examined by a doctor. Although most scrotal masses are harmless and require no treatment, some can be a sign of a more serious medical condition, such as testicular cancer. The good news is that if detected early, testicular cancer is one of the most curable forms. See your urologist as soon as possible if you experience sudden pain or detect a lump in your scrotum.
3. An Elevated Prostate-Specific Antigen Level
Prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, is a protein that is produced by the prostate gland. A urologist will perform a PSA test to measure the level of PSA in a man’s blood. Typically, very little PSA is found in the bloodstream. However, high PSA levels can be a sign of prostatitis, an enlarged prostate gland, or prostate cancer. If your PSA level is high, then your urologist will likely suggest a rectal exam or a prostate biopsy to test for cancer.
4. Enlarged Prostate
The prostate is a gland in the male reproductive system that sits below the bladder and surrounds the urethra. When enlarged, the prostate presses on the urethra and blocks urine from passing. As a result, you are likely to experience symptoms such as trouble urinating, needing to urinate frequently, dribbling after urination, or the sensation of your bladder being full even when it is empty. There are various surgical, as well as minimally-invasive, enlarged prostate treatment options that your urologist can recommend to give you relief from these symptoms.
5. Kidney Abnormality
Many people don’t realize the severity of kidney problems, but these abnormalities can signal the presence of kidney disease, as well as kidney cancer. Kidneys are part of the urinary tract system, so you will likely be referred to a urologist for specialized treatment if your primary care physician detects anything unusual with your kidneys. Recovering from kidney disease or cancer is much more successful in the earlier stages, so it is always best to get diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.
6. Male Infertility
Visiting your urologist for male infertility isn’t anything to be embarrassed about. If you and your partner are having trouble conceiving, then a urologist can diagnose what may be causing your infertility, as well as recommend treatment options. In addition to causing issues when trying to conceive, male infertility can also be a sign of testicular cancer. Although rare, you should play it safe and visit a urologist as soon as possible to see what the underlying issue is.
7. Painful Urination
If you’re experiencing pain, burning, or stinging when urinating, then there is a good chance that your urinary tract is infected. Infections can occur in any part of the urinary tract, but one of the most common causes of painful urination is a urinary tract infection. Another common cause of painful urination is prostatitis, which involves inflammation of the prostate gland. A urologist can determine the specific cause and recommend targeted treatment options to help relieve this pain.
8. Urinary Incontinence
Urinary incontinence, or the involuntary leakage of urine, is fairly common and nothing to be ashamed of. However, this is an extremely inconvenient condition, and you should visit the urologist if your incontinence interferes with your daily life. There are five different types of urinary incontinence, and it is important to visit the urologist to determine what type you’re experiencing. From there, your urologist will be able to recommend a treatment based on your symptoms.
9. Urinary Retention
The exact opposite of urinary incontinence, urinary retention is a condition in which someone struggles to empty their bladder. If you’re suffering from urinary retention, you may be unable to fully empty your bladder, or you might not be able to start urinating at all. Having difficulty urinating is an uncomfortable and inconvenient experience, but not being able to urinate at all is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention from your urologist.
10. Sexual Issues for Men
Erectile Dysfunction (ED), the inability to achieve or maintain an erect penis, is one of the most common sexual problems for men, especially as they age. Many men experience occasional erectile dysfunction during times of stress; however, frequent erectile dysfunction can require professional treatment. The good news is that there are many safe and effective treatment options that can help you manage your symptoms during sexual activity.
Your Appointment with the Urology Specialists of the Carolinas
If you think you might be experiencing any of the symptoms that we mentioned above, then you should be proactive and visit the urologist. There is no reason to live with painful or embarrassing symptoms, especially when they could be an indicator of a more serious condition.
Don’t wait — make an appointment with our team of trusted urologists as soon as you notice one of these signs by clicking the button below. As you prepare for your upcoming appointment, download our free step-by-step checklist for additional information about what to expect during your visit.
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This content was originally published in February 2015 and was refreshed in February 2021.