Multiple studies over the years have found that a large percentage of men avoid going to the doctor, even when they have symptoms of a problem. They may feel embarrassed to talk about medical issues or were raised to believe that men don’t talk about their health. For those reasons, as many as 50-60% of men don’t get preventive healthcare.
As men reach their 40s, they become more prone to a number of urological health conditions. For men uncomfortable with healthcare, sexual and urinary difficulties may be more difficult to face. But facing this discomfort and seeing a urologist can help them live a more comfortable and fulfilling life. And it may even be life-saving.
Here are some common reasons men over 40 see a urologist.
Prostate cancer screening
One of the most important reasons men over 40 sees a urologist is for prostate cancer screening. Prostate cancer is one common and sometimes dangerous cancer in men.
There are often few symptoms until it’s reached an advanced stage. When prostate cancer is caught in an early stage, it is usually treatable. A prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test is a blood test that measures the amount of protein produced in the prostate gland.
When tested regularly, a man’s PSA level can often identify changes in the prostate that may be a sign of cancer.
Enlarged prostate (BPH)
An enlarged prostate is affects most men over the age of 40. The prostate gland continues to grow throughout a man’s lifetime. This is called benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH). The prostate gland surrounds the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of the bladder.
Over time, the prostate can grow enough to squeeze the urethra, restricting urine flow out of the bladder and leading to uncomfortable symptoms.
BPH often has these urinary symptoms:
- Decreased stream
- Straining to urinate
- Incomplete emptying of the bladder
BPH is not cancer, but it does cause uncomfortable symptoms that worsen over time. Medications and surgical treatments can help.
If you and your partner are having trouble conceiving, you might undergo fertility testing to determine if there’s a medical reason.
A urologist can perform tests including hormone levels, scrotal ultrasound, urinalysis, testicular biopsy, sperm function testing, and more.
Urinary changes or problems
Changes in urination, like blood in the urine, leaking, pain when urinating, difficulty going, a weak stream, or going too often are more common with age and can indicate a health problem.
BPH or kidney stones are common treatable urinary problems. Bloody or pink urine may be a sign of a serious condition. If you see blood in your urine, call for an appointment with a urologist right away.
Testicular or penile changes
Changes to the testicles or penis also become more common with age. It’s normal for testicles to shrink a little or the scrotum to hang lower, but other changes in their size or feel of them can indicate a health condition.
Self-exams are recommended to monitor for symptoms like swelling, lumps, pain, or size, shape, or consistency. Penile changes that should prompt a urologist visit include sores, pain, or developing a curve.
Erectile dysfunction (ED)
Occasional ED happens to most men, at any age, but begins to occur more frequently in their late 40s. When it becomes a persistent problem, the cause is often one of many health conditions that become more common as you age, like heart disease. A urologist can help find the cause and work with you to find the right treatment.
Decreased sex drive
A decrease in sex drive or lack of desire may indicate low testosterone. Testosterone affects body fat, energy, sex drive, mood, concentration, muscle strength, and more. It’s common for testosterone levels to decrease beginning in your 40s, which is known as Low Testosterone or Low T. It can be treated with testosterone replacement therapy to make you feel more like yourself again.
A vasectomy is a permanent surgical method of birth control that many men choose when they’re done having children or if they prefer not to have any at all. It’s a fast, easy procedure with very few risks that can be performed in an outpatient clinic. Although it’s a permanent form of birth control, a vasectomy can sometimes be reversed.
Make that first call
If you have any new urinary or sexual symptoms, schedule an appointment with a urologist for an assessment. You might walk out of that appointment with a treatment that changes your life.
If you’re in your 40s and have never seen a urologist, it’s time to start preventive screening for prostate cancer. Don’t delay – schedule an appointment today!