8 Things Your Urologist Wants You to Know

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Katie Lambert on April 11, 2021
  • Man with doctor
    Real Talk from Real Urologists
    When your primary care provider has done all he or she can to diagnose or treat a condition or disease, it’s time to see a specialist. And when it comes to genitourinary issues, that person is a urologist. But not everyone fully understands the field of urology or the work of the doctors who specialize in it. Here are 8 things your urologist wants you to know.
  • Stomach exam
    1. “Urologists don't treat just men.”
    “One of the most important things about urology that a lot of patients don’t know is it encompasses so many treatments in children, men, and women,” says Dr. Yahir Santiago-Lastra, a board-certified urologist at UC San Diego Health System. “A lot of patients have the perception that urology is mostly a male-focused specialty that only treats prostate issues and erectile dysfunction.”
  • Doctor
    2. “Urologists treat a wide range of conditions.”
    “Urologists treat cancer of the kidney, bladder, prostate, penis, and testes; stone diseases; urinary infections; voiding dysfunction, including neurological causes; urinary incontinence in females; and benign prostate enlargement,” says Dr. Dicken Ko, director of regional urology at Massachusetts General Hospital. “Furthermore, we deal with men's health issues from low testosterone to erectile dysfunction. It’s a wide spectrum of diseases, including end organ replacement such as kidney transplantation.”
  • Woman and doctor
    3. “Urologists specialize, so find the right one for you.”
    “Once you have been referred or found someone on your own, do your homework,” says Dr. Jared Bieniek, a urologist at the Tallwood Urology & Kidney Institute of Hartford HealthCare. “Research the urologist's training and experience. Does he or she treat your problem? Some urologists have extra training (called a fellowship) in areas such as cancer, stone disease, reconstruction, female urology, sexual dysfunction/infertility, and pediatric urology. While a fellowship is not necessary for most urologic problems, you may be referred to one of these specialists or seek one out for a complicated issue.”
  • African American surgeon smiling in hospital operating room
    4. “Urologists are surgeons.”
    “One thing a lot of people are surprised about is that urologists are surgeons,” says Dr. Santiago-Lastra. “We spend a lot of time in the operating room. Urologists are very interested in innovative technologies and in advancing the surgical adaptation of technology forward. We were one of the first specialties to embrace robotic surgery.”
  • Older couple in bed
    5. “Genitourinary issues are really common.”
    “Erectile difficulties are extremely common in men across all ages due to various reasons,” says Dr. Bieniek. “Stones are common and frequently recur, so work on a strategy for prevention with your doctor. He adds, “Prostate cancer will be found in 1 in 6 men during their lifetime. Smoking is the number one risk factor for bladder cancer. And while seeing blood in the urine is not uncommon, it requires a urologic evaluation.” Dr. James Dupree, a board-certified urologist specializing in male infertility at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, adds, “Many patients are surprised to learn how common infertility is, and about 50% of the time, the male partner is having a reproductive issue that is contributing the couple’s infertility.”
  • Doctor and patient
    6. “Expect to be asked some very personal questions.”
    Along with a physical exam that includes the genitalia, your first visit to a urologist will include many questions about your symptoms and medical history. Due to the nature of the issue, those questions will often be rather intimate. A woman with urinary incontinence, for example, can expect to be asked if she also has trouble with constipation, if she feels pressure in her pelvis, and if her sex life has changed. A man with erectile problems should be prepared to talk about when erections occur and what remedies he has tried to combat ED. “For patients seeing me for infertility, I will also ask about his and his partner’s reproductive history,” says Dr. Dupree.
  • doctor, patient
    7. “But you don't need to be embarrassed or anxious about your visit.”
    “You should not feel embarrassed,” says Dr. Austin Barber, a urologist at University of Arkansas for Medical Science (UAMS). “We are prepared to treat patients no matter what type of problem they are experiencing. We treat many patients with a broad range of conditions and we treat every patient with the respect and dignity they deserve.” Dr. Santiago-Lastra says, “The first time you see a urologist can be anxiety-provoking. But urologists are very adept at handling the very personal nature of these problems with empathy, compassion, and sensitivity.”
  • Mature couple hugging
    8. “Treatment can be life-changing.”
    “We’re typically talking about an issue that’s very personal and oftentimes embarrassing for patients to talk about. But with urinary incontinence, for example, for men and women, treatment can be life-changing,” says Dr. Santiago-Lastra. Dr. Beiniek agrees. “Most men and women express a great deal of relief after finally describing their struggles. And while procedures such as vasectomies or cystoscopies can similarly be daunting, most patients describe them as ‘not as bad as I thought it would be!’”
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Last Review Date: 2021 Apr 11
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.