What Every Man Should Ask His Urologist
Some men delay going to the doctor unless something is undeniably wrong. Even so, it’s important for a man to schedule a routine visit with a urologist after he celebrates his 40th birthday. A urologist is a physician with special training to treat conditions affecting the urinary tract and the male reproductive system. A urologist can tell you what’s normal, what’s not, and what to watch out for.
To make efficient use of your doctor visit, think about in advance what you would like to discuss. Here’s an overview of some common questions:
In the past, the typical age for the first prostate exam was 50—and that’s still good advice for men of average risk for prostate cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. However, if you’re at elevated risk—for instance, if a close relative younger than 65 had prostate cancer—some experts recommend a yearly PSA (prostate-specific antigen) blood test starting at about age 40.
An elevated PSA level can mean a higher risk of developing prostate cancer. But PSA can also be higher in men who have benign (noncancerous) conditions. Your doctor can help determine when and if you need a prostate exam or PSA test.
Maybe not. Some experts think an annual PSA test is not even necessary unless your baseline PSA is elevated. Also, over time, your urologist may decide you don’t need further testing. If your PSA is very low by the time you’re 60, you’re unlikely to develop metastatic prostate cancer.
There’s no surefire method of prevention, but you can maintain a healthy lifestyle to lower your risk. Eat a healthy diet, get regular physical activity, and talk to your doctor if you notice anything unusual, such as problems urinating or blood in your urine.
There is no standard or routine screening test for testicular cancer. Ask your doctor about conducting regular self-exams. If you notice a lump in your testicle, tell your doctor. Your doctor will need to examine you first before deciding on testing. Testicular cancer has a high cure rate overall, but it can be easier and quicker to treat when it’s caught early.
There’s no magic number. The average person heads for the bathroom 4 to 8 times per day. However, tell your doctor if you think you’re urinating more often than usual. He or she may test you for a urinary tract infection depending on your symptoms. Another possible cause of frequent urination is overactive bladder.
I have trouble going to the bathroom sometimes. Is that just a normal part of aging?
If you have trouble starting a urine stream, it could be due to an enlarged prostate, also called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Enlarged prostate does come with age for many, but not all men. When the prostate grows, it can squeeze the urethra and cause urination problems. Your doctor may want to monitor your condition before starting treatment.
Men are more likely than women to develop kidney stones, as are people with a family history of kidney stones. Other conditions, including high blood pressure and frequent urinary tract infections also increase your risk. Your urologist will look at your family and medical history and your lifestyle habits to understand your risk of kidney stones.
To lower your risk, drink 8 to 13 cups of water per day. Your doctor might also recommend eating foods that are lower in sodium, a choice which is also good for your heart.
An occasional problem getting an erection is normal and common, especially as you get older. But if you’re experiencing ongoing erection problems, it’s time to talk to your doctor about it. If you do have erectile dysfunction, know that many effective treatments are available. It’s important to discuss your sexual health with your doctor because sexual problems can be a sign of other underlying health conditions that may need treatment.