Urologists provide diagnosis and treatment for diseases affecting the urinary tract and male sexual dysfunction. General conditions range from erectile dysfunction and infertility in men to urinary incontinence and prostate cancer. Since urology covers a wide range of conditions, urologists may also choose to further specialize within their field. Urology specialties include neurology, female neurology, urinary tract stones, renal transplantation, erectile dysfunction, male infertility, pediatric urology and urologic oncology.
Treating Male Sexual Dysfunction
Urologists treat male sexual dysfunction, including erectile dysfunction and infertility in men. Erectile dysfunction is the inability of the penis to become sufficiently hard to sustain engaged sexual intercourse. Erectile dysfunction is typically symptomatic of an underlying undiagnosed health problem, such as heart disease. Erectile dysfunction is a condition that can sometimes be treated by prescribing oral therapies (e.g. Viagra). Urologists are also trained to treat male infertility, perform vasectomy surgeries and diagnose/treat testicular cancer.
Diagnosing and Treating Prostate Cancer and Enlarged Prostate
Urologists are trained to diagnose and treat prostate cancer. A man’s risk of developing prostate cancer (1 in 6) is now greater than a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer (1 in 8). A PSA test (prostate-specific antigen) is the first step towards diagnosing prostate cancer. Your risk of developing prostate cancer is lost if you have a normal PSA test result combined with a digital rectal exam. Your risk is elevated, however, if you have an abnormal PSA test result. A urologist is trained to do further tests to determine whether you have prostate cancer. Should you receive a prostate-cancer diagnosis, a urologist will also manage the treatment process.
In addition to treating prostate cancer urologists also treat enlarged prostates, a common condition in older men. As the prostate grows in size it places pressure on the urethra. Symptoms of this condition, known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), include the need to frequently urinate, weak urine flow and pain in the lower back.
Addressing Urinary Tract Problems and Kidney Stones
Kidney stones are small, hard deposits that form inside the kidneys and affect the urinary tract. These stones typically form when the urine becomes concentrated, which allows minerals to crystallize and stick together. Passing kidney stones is incredibly painful, and, depending on the severity of your kidney stones, may even require hospitalization and fluid therapy. An urologist is trained to treat patients who are experiencing pain from kidney stones; in some cases, surgery may even be necessary. Urologists also address other problems of the urinary tract, including incontinence and blood in the urine.