It’s Urology Awareness Month, so we’d like to shine a light on some of the unsung heroes of medicine!
You may have some idea of what urology is. But if you’ve never had an appointment or needed treatment then it’s understandable if the word isn’t ringing any bells. For your health (and peace of mind), all guys should start seeing a urologist from the age of 40, so urology is an area of medicine that’s worth getting your head around.
What is urology?
Urology is the field of medicine that deals with the urinary tract. So that includes the kidneys and bladder for all sexes, and the male reproductive system.
What can a urologist help with?
A urologist can help with issues like stones, tumours, and incontinence, but also male fertility issues. Any conditions in the male reproductive system – testes, penis, prostate – are investigated and treated by urologists. They’re there to figure out what may be causing you pain or discomfort, but also to help you become a parent.
Many conditions can be checked and treated by your GP. But if you need specialist treatment then this is where a urologist can step in. Fertility is an area that usually requires more specialist treatment and guidance than most GPs are able to give you, so a urologist can be a very helpful health practitioner during your fertility journey.
How is a urologist different from a fertility specialist at a clinic?
A male fertility specialist will likely be a urologist!
The difference is simply that a fertility specialist at a clinic is there to assess your health in regards to fertility. They are there to help you conceive. That may mean suggesting surgeries, medicine, assisted fertility treatments or lifestyle changes. But if they find other urological conditions that have implications for your larger health rather than just your fertility, you’ll probably be referred to another urologist or clinic for treatment.
Simply put, your fertility specialist is a urologist trying to help you conceive. But if they find something like suspicious lumps on your testicles that could be cancerous, then they’ll send you to a different urologist. Either way – you’re in good hands!
When should you see a urologist?
Since urology covers a lot of ground for male anatomy, there are many symptoms which can lead to an appointment:
- urinating more frequently than normal
- blood in the urine
- changes to male genitals such as lumps
- erectile dysfunction
- painful urination
- if you and your partner have been unable to get pregnant after 1 year of trying
With any changes like these it’s best to head to the GP to talk through your concerns and symptoms. Your GP can give you a number of tests, screenings and treatments for urinary, sexual and prostate problems. But they may then refer you to a urologist.
Doctors suggest that men start to have regular urology appointments at the age of 40. This puts you in much better control of your urinary, sexual and prostate health. It means you’re much more likely to catch out any dangerous diseases or conditions before they become worse. Even if you’ve had no problems, diagnosing a nasty disease or condition early on can make all the difference to your life and health.
What can I expect at a urology appointment?
A urology appointment for your fertility will likely be a chat with the doctor about your medical history and any current issues, a painless examination and a semen analysis.
A physical check for a man will generally involve feeling his abdomen, examining his genitals, and a digital exam to feel his prostate. Now these sorts of exams may seem embarrassing, but take comfort in the fact that pretty much every male will have these tests at some point. It’s just a short – albeit awkward – part of your day with a professional who knows what they’re doing. If your physical exams are all normal, you should be able to just head home and rest easy in the knowledge you’re healthy and don’t need to worry about a big section of your health for a while.
Semen analyses from labs can take a week’s time, so you might be called in for another appointment to discuss your results. Then depending on your results you may need to discuss treatment plans. You can usually improve your semen quality with exercise and diet changes, but sometimes it’s not that easy. Your urologist can then talk you through alternative options like surgeries and fertility treatment, and any concerns you might have.
Hopefully that gives you some peace of mind for your future appointment. That being said, if you’re biting your nails waiting for an upcoming urology appointment, you can always call up the clinic or doctor and ask exactly what will happen during your visit.
Can my ExSeed Test results help me at a urology appointment?
Yes! One part of a urology appointment for male fertility is a semen analysis. Already having ExSeed results may mean you won’t need another analysis. Or if you end up needing another, having ExSeed results can tell your doctor if anything has changed. This can help urologists determine factors which may be affecting your sperm.
Already having test results may also help you understand the process of urological tests and treatments better. The ExSeed test kit and app give you comprehensive information about your sperm analysis results, what each part means, and how they can be improved.
Having a good understanding of male fertility can make it easier to go through appointments with new doctors. It can be difficult when the doctor asks “Do you have any questions?” if you don’t know enough about your body or the field of medicine. You may have questions you don’t know how to word or concerns you feel embarrassed to ask about. Getting to grips with your fertility before you head to the urologist may mean you’re more able to navigate your appointments much easier.
Whether a urology appointment is something in your near future, or something you won’t need for years, it’s good to be prepared and aware.
It can be easy to feel like you don’t have much control over your health or fertility. So it’s important to discuss any concerns or questions you have with your GP or other doctors, even if it’s mild.