What You Need to Know About Urological Health in 2017
Prevention & Treatment Do cranberries really prevent UTIs? Is it true that black men are more likely to get prostate cancer? Community urologist at West Shore Urology Dr. Brian Stork answers your burning questions about urological health.
Who is at risk for developing a urological health problem?
Age, family history, gender can all contribute to a person’s risk for a urologic health problem. For example, one in seven men will be diagnosed for prostate cancer, but their risk increases if they are African American and increases more if they have a family history. Further, heart disease and/or diabetes can be linked to erectile dysfunction.
What are five signs or symptoms that a man needs to see a urologist?
Blood in the urine, testicular pain, masses or lumps on the testicles, painful urination, difficulty urinating, and elevated PSA.
What are five signs or symptoms that a woman needs to see a urologist?
Blood in the urine, pain or burning sensation while urinating, leaking of urine, pelvic pain, and difficulty urinating.
"Whatever is healthy for your heart is healthy for your prostate and GU system."
Many people learn that cranberries can prevent UTIs. Is this true?
Unfortunately, there’s no clear research to show cranberries can make a difference. Some studies have found that drinking cranberry juice or taking cranberry pills can prevent UTIs, especially in women who are at risk for these infections. But others haven’t come to that conclusion.
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology says that unsweetened cranberry juice and cranberry supplements may make UTIs less likely, but that it’s not yet clear how much you need to take and for how long. Scientists used to think that cranberries protected against UTIs by making urine more acidic, which is less friendly to bacteria like E. coli that are usually to blame. But now, researchers have a different theory: that cranberries make it harder for infection-causing bacteria to stick to the urinary tract walls. It could be that nutrients in cranberries change the bacteria so that they can't stick to the urinary tract. Or it may be that cranberries create a slippery coating on the urinary tract walls that makes it hard for E. coli to get a good grip — it’s just not clear.
What are some of the most common misconceptions about urological health?
One misconception is that urologists only see men — this is not accurate. Urologists specialize in the entire genital and urinary tract and see men, women and children.
Another misconception is that incontinence affects only women who have had kids. This is not true as more than 25 million people in the United States suffer from loss of bladder control. Of those, about 25 percent are men. More than 10 percent of men over the age of 65 have bladder control problems.
I also often hear people say that only women who have had children or a hysterectomy develop stress urinary incontinence. That is not true – they are only risk factors.
Why should someone see a urologist specifically instead of a general doctor?
When patients notice something unusual, they typically go to their primary care doctor first. The primary care doctor can do an initial evaluation and decide if they need to be referred to a specialist, such as a urologist. If you have an elevated PSA, your primary care will refer you to a urologist. Some people prefer to go directly to a urologist over a primary care doctor to discuss erectile dysfunction, male infertility concerns, enlarged prostate, recurring kidney stones, recurring UTIs, or to discuss specific procedures such as a vasectomy
Is there an age someone should consider taking special interest in their urological health?
You should be aware of your bladder and urinary health throughout your life. For example, older men should be mindful of prostate cancer, whereas young women should be mindful of UTIs.
Are there foods that can improve urological health as a preventative measure?
In general, I tell patients that whatever is healthy for your heart is healthy for your prostate and GU system. An exception to this rule might be a kidney stone patient on a low oxalate diet. Hydration is very important and often forgotten in the stress of daily living. Carry a water bottle. Add fruit to your water pitcher in the fridge is you don't like the taste of tap water.