Many men may not talk about it, but they mentally ask the question, “do I need a prostate doctor?”. Some men don’t even know what the prostate is, where it is located, or what it does. Men over the age of 40 should start thinking about talking with a prostate doctor, otherwise known as a urologist.
A urologist is a physician who specializes in all things related to your reproductive organs and your urinary system. He takes care of problems men have with their bladder, kidneys, ureters, urethra, and your prostate gland. Here is more information about the prostate, and when you might need to see a urologist.
What is the prostate and what does it do?
The prostate is a gland located below the bladder but in front of the rectum. It is approximately the size of a walnut, and it surrounds part of the urethra. The urethra is a tube that drains urine from your bladder out to the end of your penis.
The prostate gland secretes fluid that makes up part of your semen. It protects and nourishes the sperm once they are ejaculated, until the sperm contacts an egg of a female. But, as men age, the prostate can cause problems including:
- Frequent urination
- Inability to urinate
- Inability to fully drain the bladder
- Decrease the size and rate of urinary stream
- Squeeze the urethra
- Cause frequent urination throughout the night
- Prostate Cancer
The prostate gland also increases in size in correlation with your age. Men under 40 usually have a prostate the size of a walnut, as previously stated. By the age of 40, most prostate glands have become the size of an apricot. But by the age of 60, many men have prostate glands that are the size of a lemon. When this happens, the enlarged prostate causes some of the symptoms above.
When should I see a urologist?
All men at the age of 50 should have their first appointment with the urologist. This allows the urologist to get baseline blood work, a prostate specific antigen test (PSA), and complete a physical examination to make sure you are in good health. Some physicians recommend the first visit should start at 40.
Most prostate issues start about the age of 50. But, going sooner rather than later is important if you start to have symptoms. 50% of men over the age of 60 have an enlarged prostate. 8 out of 10 men develop an enlarged prostate, often called by the medical term, benign prostate hypertrophy (BPH). 90% of men over the age of 85 will have BPH. And 30% of those men find the symptoms bothersome.
There are many reasons to see a urologist, and not all of them are about the prostate. If you have a testicular mass or pain, blood in your urine, erectile dysfunction, or kidney stones, you should see a urologist.
What can I expect when I go to my first appointment with a urologist?
You can expect the urologist to do a full physical exam and a medical history questionnaire. Age and family history can play a role in many of the problems with the prostate. The urologist will do a digital examination of the prostate to determine its size and shape. And the urologist will draw a blood sample specifically the PSA level. The PSA level can be a good indicator of prostate cancer. Your PSA level can be elevated for other reasons, but this allows you and the urologist to monitor your urinary and sexual health.
Men’s health in Charlotte, NC, and the surrounding area
Dr. Richard Natale and the staff at the Carolina Urology Partners are friendly and want to help you maintain your urinary health. They are one of the Top 10 urology practices in the US and the ninth largest group in the country. Carolina Urology Partners treat a variety of problems including low testosterone levels, vasectomies, erectile dysfunction, and others, including penile implants and prostate cancer.