You are a man and, like most men, you aren’t that comfortable talking about your health. But if you live long enough or desire to live that long, you’ll have to talk about your health with your doctor. And later in life you are likely to have benign prostatic hyperplasia — about 80 percent of men will have BPH in their lifetime — and will need a urologist to either diagnose or confirm that you have the condition and then treat it.
What is BPH?
BPH means the prostate gland has grown so large that it is causing urinary problems. Often, as the gland enlarges, it presses on the urethra, narrowing or blocking it and making it difficult for urine to pass through the tube. Eventually BPH may cause bothersome and embarrassing urinary symptoms that may require specialized treatment.
You should see a urologist when:
- You are finding it problematic to start to urinate.
- You frequently have a sudden, uncontrollable urge to urinate.
- You have dripping or leaking of urine after you urinate.
- You have weak, slow or interrupted urine streams.
- You urinate frequently, particularly at night.
- You experience pain or discomfort or have to strain or push to urinate.
- You can’t empty your bladder completely.
Why should you see a urologist?
BPH should be promptly treated by a urologist because it can have adverse effects on your life. The condition can lead to complications such as urinary tract infections, kidney failure or urinary retention. Likewise, BPH may reach a point where you may have to plan every errand, activity or event you are attending around its proximity to a bathroom.
You also should see a urologist if you have a family history of the condition. The doctor will guide you on the actions to take to prevent or manage the condition, helping you avoid complications and make treatment more cost-effective. And since BPH and prostate cancer may have similar symptoms, speaking with your doctor about your symptoms may help you detect a more serious condition earlier.
How should you speak with a urologist?
Most problems brought to urologists are embarrassing. So rest assured that talking about BPH with the doctor is not a shameful, intimidating act but a courageous, lifesaving step. Don’t be reluctant to open up. Be willing to talk freely since the condition has a great prognosis if treatment begins early. Also there is a lot of value speaking with a urologist when the symptoms are still at their mildest stage because only a simple intervention may be needed. It is important to seek help as soon as symptoms begin to occur.
You should come to your appointment prepared with your complete medical history, medications and all the relevant information about your health and the procedures you have had in the past. You also should bring any information about your condition and a list of questions to ask.
Once you’re at the urologist’s office, make sure you are completely honest about the reasons for your appointment. Be open and say you are visiting because of your urinary problems. Honesty will help to prepare you and the entire urology team that will handle the case. It is also critical to talk about all the changes that you have seen in your health.
While treatment for BPH can be as simple as just avoiding alcohol and caffeine, emptying your bladder as completely as you can, or taking prescribed medication to reduce the symptoms, prevent further growth of the prostate or shrink the prostate, your primary focus should be on achieving an improved quality of life after treatment. Ask the urologist about the possible side effects of the potential treatments, the right treatment for you and how comfortable it will be for you moving forward. Whenever possible, seek non-surgical interventions first before you consider surgery.
If the condition can’t be controlled with medication, such as in severe BPH or when you have complications like bladder stones, urinary tract blockages or kidney problems, your doctor may suggest surgery. Various forms of surgery include laser therapy, transurethral prostatic incision, needle ablation or microwave therapy. It is important to speak with your urologist about the different surgical options before you are treated. For more information on diagnosis and treatment of BPH, visit the “Advanced-Urology-Institute‘” site.