Urology is a field of medicine that specializes in the urinary systems of both men and women and the male reproductive system. When urology is mentioned, most people automatically assume the subject is geared toward women since they tend to suffer urological problems like bladder and kidney infections more often than men. However, males are subject to the same issues, and they even have some unique urology issues based on their own anatomy. Let’s look at some of the most prevalent urology issues men face.
Common Urological Issues Men Face
1. Enlarged Prostate
Benign prostatic hyperplasia, also called BPH or an enlarged prostate, is a non-cancerous condition involving the male reproductive system’s prostate gland. The gland naturally enlarges with age, but it can also enlarge due to hormonal imbalances of testosterone. Risk can be causally calculated by age – 30s have 30 percent chance, 40s have a 40 percent chance, 50s have a 50 percent chance, and so forth.
As the prostate enlarges, it applies pressure to and wraps around the urethra and bladder, which can strangle the flow of urine and cause a number of symptoms, including:
- Difficulty starting the flow of urine.
- Urine flow that stops and starts during a void.
- Urgency and frequency.
- Feeling full from incomplete voids.
- Dribbling after urination.
Such symptoms commonly result in sleeplessness from frequently awakening to use the bathroom at night, which is what brings most men into the doctor to examine the problem.
Treatment is very individualized. Some men have very large prostates without symptoms, and other men can have slightly enlarged prostates that significantly interfere with daily life. Treatment options are usually based on how symptoms impact your quality of life. These include:
- Alpha-blockers to reduce the size of the prostate.
- Alpha reductase inhibitors to reduce levels of male dihydrotestosterone, which is a hormone involved in prostate growth.
- TUMT (transurethral microwave thermotherapy,) which is a minimally invasive procedure that heats and destroys selected prostate tissues with computer-regulated microwaves.
- TUNA (transurethral radiofrequency needle ablation,) which is similar to TUMT but uses high-frequency radio waves transmitted by needles inserted directly into the prostate.
- Prostate stents to widen and open the urethra.
- Surgeries, such as TURP, TUIP, prostatectomy, and laser.
2. Prostate Cancer
Do note that an enlarged prostate isn’t the same as prostatitis, which is a prostate infection, nor prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is the most commonly seen cancer in men. Second, only to lung cancer, it’s also one of the most fatal cancers in men.
Add bloody urine and bone pain, and the symptoms of prostate cancer are dangerously similar to prostate enlargement.
Digital rectal exams and PSA blood screenings are key to early detection and treatment. Talk with your healthcare provider about the timing of both based on your health history, age, and other risk factors.
3. Urinary Tract Infection
Also called UTIs, these occur when bacterium travel up the urethra to invade and grow in the bladder, kidneys, and/or kidney tubes.
The urethra is shorter in women than men, which makes men less susceptible. Age, however, makes men more susceptible to prostate enlargement, which can choke the bladder and leave residual urine behind. This residual urine leaves bacteria a place to grow and thrive. Other factors that increase the risk of male UTIs include:
- Long periods of immobility.
- Frequently holding urine for long periods of time.
- Fecal incontinence and/or poor hygiene.
- Anal sex.
- Being uncircumcised.
- Frequent dehydration.
Symptoms of a UTI include:
- Burning, urgent, and/or more frequent urination.
- Fever, nausea, and vomiting with kidney infections.
- Pain in the flank area with kidney infections and pain in the upper pubic region with bladder infections.
Treatment consists of increased fluid intake, antibiotics, and addressing any risk factors from above.
4. Kidney And Bladder Cancer
Men are actually twice as likely to get kidney cancer and three to four times more likely to get bladder cancer than women. Bladder cancer is the fourth leading type of cancer in men, and kidney cancer makes the top ten list.
It’s important to note that kidney cancer and bladder cancer may exhibit symptoms similar to UTI infections. Like prostate cancer, this raises the danger zone.
Both kidney and bladder cancer are usually accompanied by blood in the urine, and kidney cancer may be accompanied by an abdominal lump.
These are highly treatable cancers with excellent survival rates, particularly when caught early. Talk to your doctor about the need for screening.
5. Peyronie’s Disease
This disease occurs when fibrous plaque scar tissue within the penis causes it to be less flexible and curve. While it can strike at any age, it most commonly occurs in middle-aged men. The exact cause for Peyronie’s disease remains unclear, but it’s thought to be connected to several factors, including:
- A side effect of certain medications.
- The long-term result of penis traumas and injuries.
- History of Dupuytren’s contracture.
The primary symptom of Peyronie’s disease is a painful arc in the penis when it’s erect. This symptom can appear gradually or suddenly. It may also go away just as gradually or slowly on its own. It’s typically not an arc that’s visibly noticeable. Instead, it’s the pain, particularly during sex, that’s distinctly noticeable during erections.
Treatment is generally reserved for when the disease interferes with sexual function. There are three options, and doctors usually start in order:
- The first option is oral medications, such as pentoxifylline or potassium para-aminobenzoate.
- The second option involves injecting medications, such as verapamil and collagenase, directly into the penis’s scar tissue.
- The third option is surgery to either remove the plaque and replace it with a graft or remove tissue from the unaffected side to counteract the arc.