In his 31 years practicing with a urology group, Victor Senese, RN, BSN, CURN, has seen plenty of reluctant patients. “I find most men, myself included, don’t like going to see a doctor,” he says. “I think this may have to do with admitting that we’re not invincible. Admitting that you’re having a problem with erections can be even harder.”

Shift in conversation

Thanks to prolific advertising for erectile dysfunction treatments, however, that particular problem has been brought from out of the shadows. “Back when I first started working in urology,” recalls Senese, “it was often the question you heard as you started walking out the door. This tends not to be case anymore.”

“Patients often convince themselves that a weak stream and getting up at night is just part of getting old...”

Erectile problems are just one of many reasons patients should see an urologist, however. Some patients are also averse to seeking help for incontinence, difficulty urinating and enlarged prostate. Sums Senese: “I find a lot of fear when it comes to prostate health. There’s even a campaign to help promote prostate cancer awareness called ‘don’t fear the finger.’”

Most problems are treatable

The unfortunate result of that fear is patients who put off visiting an urologist, and later suffer from problems that might have been prevented. “I find it sad when patients ignore urinary symptoms for years before seeking care,” Senese says. “Patients often convince themselves that a weak stream and getting up at night is just part of getting old and delay seeing us. Occasionally, they wait too long, and their bladder muscle is too weak to simply repair.”

While patients may feel uncomfortable talking about changes in urination and other “embarrassing” problems, urologists and RNs like Senese deal with those issues every day. Senese says most problems are not serious, can be diagnosed with a few simple tests, and are easily treated with medication. Occasionally, though, he encounters the worst-case scenario, and a patient is diagnosed with prostate cancer. “I can't help but think, ‘Why did you wait?’”