Don't be shy: get familiar with urological problems and conditions
Urology is the branch of medicine concerned with the diseases of the male and female urinary tract and the male reproductive organs. Everything from the kidneys to the bladder, and the urethra to the male reproductive organs are in urology’s domain. So, if it’s a problem ‘down below’ it’s likely to be urological.
Sadly, due to its association with the genitals and urinating, there’s a stigma attached to urology that prevents people being open about their condition. This is despite the fact that urological disorders affect the lives of millions of men, women and children in the UK.
Below are some of the most common urological complaints with useful links that will help you recognise their symptoms and understand their causes. The more you know, the better equipped you are to take action.
Kidney and ureteral stones
Kidney stones arise when there are high levels of minerals and salts in the kidneys, causing a build-up to occur. While these stones most often cause no problems at all, they sometimes get too big or start to travel down the ureter, which connects the kidneys and the bladder, where they can get stuck, blocking the flow of urine.
This can cause persistent discomfort in your lower back, nausea, a persistent need to pee and possibly blood in your urine. Needless to say, if any of these symptoms occur you need to visit the doctor.
Learn more about the symptoms of infection due to kidney stones.
Benign prostatic enlargement
Simply put, benign prostatic enlargement is the medical term to describe an enlarged prostate. It is usually not a serious problem, with no definite cause, but it can affect how you pee. If you have problems urinating, go to see your doctor.
Find out more here.
Kidney cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in the UK, affecting mainly adults in their 60s and 70s. If caught early, kidney cancer can often be cured.
It shares some symptoms with other urological problems – blood in the urine and persistent pain in the lower back, for instance – so, although having these symptoms does not mean that you have kidney cancer, it’s important you speak to a doctor.
Read more about kidney cancer and its possible symptoms by clicking here.
Prostate cancer occurs when the cells in the prostate gland – the part of the body where semen in men is produced – grow in an uncontrolled way. Most of the time prostate cancer grows slowly and may never cause problems. However, some forms of the cancer are more likely to spread.
To read more about prostate cancer, including some of its less common symptoms, see here.
Overactive bladder syndrome
Overactive bladder syndrome (OAB) is the medical name used to describe a collection of symptoms, including the sudden need to urinate, needing to urinate more often than normal, needing to go regularly at night or leaking urine involuntarily.
The symptoms of OAB can be annoying, but they are not life-threatening. However, if you experience any of these symptoms we recommend you visit your doctor, as the cause needs to be established before the problem can be treated.
Find out more about OAB and how to manage it here.
Nocturia is the term used to describe waking up one or more times during the night because you need to pee. While occasionally waking to urinate is not a big problem, doing it twice or more per night can start to affect your quality of life, as well as your health.
The problem can have many different causes and is more likely to occur as you get older. If you suffer from nocturia speak to your doctor.
Read more about nocturia, its causes and how to manage it here.
Urinary incontinence is when you involuntarily leak urine and it is deemed a medical condition if it happens regularly. It’s also really common, so there’s no need to be shy about it. Speak to your doctor and find out what treatment will suit you best. There are pelvic floor exercises, drug treatments and surgery that can help.
Find out more about urinary incontinence and its causes here.
Common among men of all ages, erectile dysfunction is the inability to get or maintain an erection. This problem can have a huge effect on your quality of life and impact your relationships.
Start by approaching your family doctor to discuss the matter. This will likely feel embarrassing, but will be worth it in the end, as treatment could help improve your quality of life significantly.
If you’d like to read more about erectile dysfunction and its causes, see here.