Many types of medicine remain something of a mystery to the layperson. With so many specialized practices available in today’s world, it can be difficult to keep up with all of the different opinions available.
Urology is one of the fields that is often less well-known. Because of this confusion, we’re shedding some light on exactly what happens when you see a urologist — and why you might need one.
The practice of urology is defined as the branch of medicine dedicated to the study, analysis, and treatment of the female and male urinary tract, as well as the male reproductive system. The female reproductive system is not included in this field because OB/GYN offices already offer this specialty.
For greater context, the primary organs that populate the male genitourinary system include:
kidneys, ureters, bladder, prostate, urethra and testicles. If you’re seeking additional specialization in the kidneys, nephrology is even more highly specialized, though nephrologists are not surgeons which urologists are. Urologists can work with women, men, and children struggling with issues in any one of these areas.
Signs & Symptoms
A wide range of conditions have the potential to affect the urinary tract. Several of the most common ones BPH (overgrown prostate gland in men) and urinary tract infections (UTIs, men and women) and kidney stones. Urinary leakage (incontinence) is also very common in women of all ages. Additionally, prostate cancer (the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men beside skin cancer), cancers of the bladder, kidneys, and erectile dysfunction/low testosterone are all conditions addressed by a urologist.
So, how can you identify a potential issue arising? There are a number of things that you can look out for in your day-to-day life. Any trouble with urination can be a reason to get an appointment, including slowing urinary stream, getting up at night, daytime frequency or urgency, blood in the urine, leakage of urine, burning with urination, pelvic pain or lower abdominal pressure, and erectile dysfunction for men.
When you go to your first urological appointment, you can expect a few initial steps for evaluation. A physical examination will take place, a urinalysis will be conducted using urine, and a bladder ultrasound will be done. Imaging tests may also be ordered. While you’re there, your provider will also likely discuss a family history with any urological issues, particularly prostate cancer.
It would also be helpful to track your symptoms in the days and weeks leading up to your appointment. You should also write down any questions you have for the urologist. Depending on diagnosis, your provider may also recommend medical or surgical treatments. Since urologists are trained surgeons, select procedures may be available in the office, whereas others may require surgery.
If you are looking for specialized services in Southern Maryland, UM Charles Regional Medical Group – Urology is now accepting new patients at its La Plata office.