A urologist can help with bladder issues and pelvic pain in men and women, as well as sexual dysfunction and infertility in men. But how do you know when you should make an appointment?
It’s not always easy to know when you should see a urologist. It might even feel like a hassle. But make no mistake: Scheduling an appointment can save you a lot of discomfort and pain, and it could even save your life.
Here are six signs that it might be time to make the call.
1. You have a urinary tract infection (UTI) that won’t go away.
If you experience burning, painful and frequent urination that doesn’t improve with antibiotics, it could be a sign that you have interstitial cystitis (IC), also known as a painful bladder. A urologist will test your urine and examine your bladder with a cystoscope to make the diagnosis. IC can be treated with anti-inflammatory drugs and can also be prevented by avoiding certain triggers, typically alcohol, spicy foods, caffeine and chocolate.
2. You’re urinating a lot or leaking urine.
Urologists work with both men and women to manage the symptoms of overactive bladder (OAB) and urinary incontinence. If it is OAB, lifestyle modifications, medications and surgical treatments can help get the symptoms under control.
3. You think you have a kidney stone.
Kidney stones are most notably marked by severe pain on one side of your lower back, though other symptoms include nagging stomach pain, blood in the urine and urine that smells bad or looks cloudy. If you experience these symptoms, you should see your urologist as soon as possible for diagnosis and treatment.
“Kidney stone pain can be very severe, and many patients report it as the worst they have ever experienced,” says Mike Nguyen, MD, a urologist at Keck Medicine of USC and associate professor of clinical urology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. “How does this compare to the pain of childbirth? It turns out that the reported amount of pain in both situations is almost identical.”
4. You’re a man experiencing erectile dysfunction (ED).
A urologist is often the first doctor a man will turn to if he’s having difficulty getting or maintaining an erection. The problem of ED can be a psychological one, but more often than not there’s an underlying medical or physical cause.
5. You’re experiencing pelvic pain.
Pain in the pelvic area has many causes, which can include IC, prostate inflammation, prostate infection, bladder cancer and kidney cancer. Your urologist can help diagnose the cause and provide treatment.
6. You’re a man concerned about his fertility.
If you and your partner haven’t been able to conceive for six months to a year, you may want to see a urologist for a fertility checkup. A urologist can gauge your fertility based on semen tests, blood work and ultrasounds.