Definition and Overview
A urology consultation refers to an appointment with a urologist for medical conditions that affect the urinary system and male reproductive health.
The urinary system is not vastly different from the female’s, except for the fact that the women have a shorter urethra, making them more susceptible to urinary tract infections. The urinary system includes the kidneys, which filter toxic wastes, excess water, and other metabolic by-products produced by the body, as well as the bladder, which stores the urine. The bladder is composed of several nerves on the wall that tells the brain when it is already full to allow the urine to pass through. The sphincter muscles then relax during urination, and the urine goes through the urethra.
The male reproductive system is somehow interconnected with the urinary system. The urethra, for example, serves as the pathway for both the urine and semen, which contains the sperm cells passing through the penis.
The sperm cells, meanwhile, are produced in the testicles, which are found in the scrotum, the pouch that hangs loose beside or behind the penis. It is responsible for controlling the temperature to make the testicles a suitable environment for the sperm cells. The testicles are connected to the epididymis, where the sperm cells are stored until they mature and are released to the vas deferens. The sperm proceeds to the urethra and the penis during ejaculation. There are also different glands that also play a huge role in the male reproductive health.
Who Should Undergo and Expected Results
Urology is mainly for males, and urologists usually focus on any disease or condition that can affect this population, which sets them apart from nephrologists who specialize in the urinary system especially the kidneys, and they can also see a majority of women.
Some of the medical conditions that may require a visit to the urologist include:
Congenital deformities – Some male babies are born with congenital defects in their reproductive system, particularly the penis, which may be short, small, or curved, to name a few.
Reproductive issues – Males who have infertility issues can also visit a urologist. This problem is not often due to the size of the penis but on the quality of the sperm, which should be produced in high volumes and of good motility. Sperms come with heads and tails simply because they have to swim fast to meet the egg. However, some of them can be very slow and eventually die along the way. Other possible causes are psychological factors and hormonal imbalances, especially in the production of testosterone, which helps produce the sperm cells. Meanwhile, traumatic experiences and stress can trigger two of the most common reproductive-related problems in males, which are premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction. Reproductive issues may also pertain to procedures such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) and vasectomy. IVF is a reproductive-assisted technology like artificial insemination. Vasectomy, on the other hand, is the clipping or tying off the vas deferens to prevent the sperm from combining with the semen, and therefore, men lose the ability to sire. This procedure, however, can be reversed. Both would require comprehensive urologic tests particularly before the procedures are carried out.
Medical conditions – Different types of medical conditions may require the expertise of urologists. These include inflammation of either the urinary or the reproductive system, cancers affecting the male reproductive health like prostate and testicular, and sexually transmitted diseases, which may affect urination and other processes. Urologic consultation is an essential part of the treatment, diagnosis, and management of these diseases. Urologists, meanwhile, work with other health care professionals, who then form your core medical team. For example, if you are diagnosed with bladder cancer, your urologist may work closely with a surgeon and an oncologist who specializes in cancer.
How Does the Procedure Work?
More often than not, patients would require a referral from their doctor to a urologist. Sometimes, if you do your homework, you can request for a referral to a specific urologist of your choice.
You need to secure an appointment before the visit. You can either call the office or book it online. It is expected that your medical records have been already forwarded to the doctor prior to the visit or you bring your own medical documents with you for an initial assessment.
The first visit is usually about getting a better idea of how you are doing and what you are feeling. The doctor will inquire about your medical and family history, as well as lifestyle. He will also ask about your overall health and symptoms, such as frequency of or changes in urination, any pain, abnormal discharges, etc. On the first visit, he can already conduct physical examinations like feeling your abdomen for any pain. Other diagnostic procedures like imaging and blood tests can be conducted on the same day, but the results may take at least 24 hours.
If the doctor suspects a more complicated case, you may have to return multiple times for follow-up consultations to keep track of your progress.
There is usually no special preparation needed for the consultations. But if it helps, you may want to list down your concerns and questions beforehand. The Internet has plenty of good guides on what to ask your urologist.
Possible Risks and Complications
Urology consultations are generally safe as no invasive tests are performed. However, like any consultation, it may cause anxiety. You can reduce that by:
- Having a companion go with you during consultations
- Finding a good urologist you will feel comfortable sharing your experiences with
- Being prepared with the questions to ask
- Avoiding thinking too much about your condition, especially if you still do not have a clear diagnosis
Getting help in a well-established clinic or hospital that values the privacy of their patients during consultations
British Journal of Urology