Founded in 1856, St John & St Elizabeth Hospital is one of the UK’s largest independent charitable hospitals. Our commitment to our patients is in the quality of our care, the range of our services and the quality of our consultants and staff.
St John & St Elizabeth Hospital is renowned for its highly specialised clinics that provide exemplary care for patients. Our expert Consultants cover the full range of specialties and are able to treat almost any medical condition.
We look at the complex world of urology and what to expect on the first visit to a urologist.
Urology is a branch of medicine that deals with the urinary system in males and females and includes the male reproductive organs and the various issues and problems that can arise. Urologists specialise in this area of medicine to give them more profound knowledge about these complex parts of the body to diagnose and effectively treat conditions and diseases when they develop.
Urologists may further specialise in pediatric urology for children; cancer; urology for women; reconstructive urology; infertility in men; and kidney stones. Many people are referred to a urologist by their GP for conditions and illnesses ranging from the minor to the more serious. Specialists are usually based at a hospital, such as the Urology Clinic of St John & St Elizabeth Hospital. We have world-renowned urologists at our private hospital who treat all problems that arise in the urinary and male reproductive systems.
If, after an initial examination and study of any symptoms you may have, your GP refers you to a urologist, you might be wondering what to expect. Will you have to undergo additional examinations? Might you have to stay in hospital overnight, and what tests will you have to take, if any? It’s good to have answers to these and any other questions you might have before leaving for your appointment, and then you’re less likely to be worried or anxious. So what does a urologist do on the first visit? We’ll get to that shortly.
The urinary and male reproductive systems
The urinary system is responsible for eliminating liquid waste, or urine, from the body. It also serves a function in helping to regulate blood pressure and the levels of electrolytes and metabolites in the blood and its pH. Waste is filtered by the kidneys, which sit atop and either side of the urinary system. From there, urine flows into the bladder via tubes called the ureters. The contents of the bladder, when full, are eliminated via a duct called the urethra.
Together, these four parts of the body — the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra — make up the urinary system. Many kinds of problems can occur, which means you need to see a urologist and get treated. Although urinary tract infections are common in women, men can also suffer from them. They can affect any part of the urinary system. The condition, caused by bacteria, can be painful if it’s centred in the bladder, and more severe if the kidneys become infected.
Urologists also deal with andrology, which is the opposite of gynaecology — treating conditions associated with the male reproductive system, and sexual problems that include erectile dysfunction. This type of problem is often linked to low hormone levels. Andrology is also concerned with fertility in men, and it’s the branch of medicine that diagnoses and treats prostate cancer — one of the most common cancers in men.
When might you need to see a urologist?
As we’ve touched on, one of the most common reasons GPs refer people to a urologist is to treat urinary tract infections. You might know you have a problem if you experience pain or discomfort while urinating, and a burning sensation might accompany it. You may also feel the need to urinate more often, including during the night, and your urine may be cloudy. In addition, urinary tract infections can sometimes be accompanied by a pain in your back or abdomen and a high or low temperature with chills.
You might be referred to a urologist for many other reasons. For both men and women, these may include pain when urinating and blood in the urine, and an odour; issues with the flow of urine, or leakage; and problems like an overactive bladder. Kidney stones — from a buildup of salt and minerals due to a poor diet, being overweight and certain medical conditions — are also routinely treated by urologists.
Male issues requiring investigation and possible treatment by a urologist include erectile problems resulting from low testosterone, so testing will be done to determine the level of fertility issues such as low sperm count; and general issues affecting the male reproductive organs. In addition, a urologist can see women if they’re experiencing a low sex drive, which might be due to hormonal issues.
So what does a urologist do on the first visit?
Whether you’re female or male, there’s no need to be anxious about a visit to see a urologist. They are highly trained professionals who will treat you with care and respect and give you all the time you need to feel comfortable and ask questions. This is particularly the case at a private hospital, which typically won’t have high numbers of patients and so doctors and nurses won’t be rushed and can spend more time with the people they’re diagnosing and treating.
It’s advisable to turn up for your appointment with your urologist with a full bladder, as they most likely will ask you for a urine sample. The sample will provide them with a urinalysis, which reveals what your urine is like and any problems, such as an infection with the kidneys.
You’ll be asked to fill out forms and discuss your medical history with the urologist, as well as describing any symptoms you may be experiencing. It also helps if you have the names of any medications you’re taking to hand, as the urologist will want to know what you’re on.
A specialist will usually carry out a physical examination of the genital and rectal area — the latter for men, to determine if there might be a problem with the prostate gland. The urologist may then order various tests or scans, such as an ultrasound or CT scan, to give them more information about your organs and overall condition — to arrive at the correct diagnosis and form the proper treatment plan for you.
You may have to have a procedure to remedy your problem or provide more information, such as a prostate biopsy, to see if cancer cells are present. Other procedures may include a cystoscopy, which uses a tiny camera to examine the urethra and bladder; or a nephrectomy, to remove part of a diseased kidney or the entire kidney.
Urologists are the medical professionals who perform vasectomies, a severing of the tubes that carry sperm from the testicles, resulting in permanent sterilisation so that conception cannot occur with a partner. However, the procedure can be reversed and is all part of the vast, varied and highly specialised work that urologists worldwide do every day.
Our leading urologists are available to see you soon after you make an appointment at our private hospital. Make an enquiry now.
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