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Men’s Health Below the Belt

By Lance Patrick Walsh, MD, Ph.D.; Gary Leifer, MD, FACS; Youssef S. Tanagho, MD, MPH

Physician experts from Walsh Urology address common men’s urinary health issues to increase awareness of these important health conditions. If you suffer from aggravating urinary conditions, it is important to consult an urologist, as many of these conditions are easily treated.

Prostate Conditions. Most common problems with men can be issues related to the prostate – elevated PSAs, trouble emptying bladder, and sexual dysfunction.

BPH (Enlarged Prostate). The prostate is a gland that sits below the bladder. As men age, the prostate naturally enlarges in size. This can squeeze off the canal that carries the urine, and patients can develop symptoms such as decreased urine stream, getting up frequently at night, and urgency to urinate.

BPH is benign enlargement of the prostate. Over 70% of men over age 60 have the condition and over 90% of men over age 80 have it. Unfortunately, only half the people with symptoms seek treatment, but awareness is increasing. For a long time, patients accepted urinary problems as a product of aging. Now there are many treatments available to help patients improve their quality of life, from traditional surgical methods to the latest minimally-invasive office procedures.

Prostate Cancer. Prostate cancer, like any other cancer, can occur spontaneously and often without clear-cut cause or explanation. An important difference between BPH and prostate cancer is that prostate cancer doesn’t oftentimes produce symptoms until it’s advanced, so if we don’t catch prostate cancer from an elevated PSA blood test or rectal examination, we are not going to detect it at an early stage to implement an easy cure. We recommend regular prostate evaluation by a primary care physician or urologist.

Erectile Dysfunction. Although erectile dysfunction suggests a total inability to achieve an erection, it also includes problems achieving or maintaining a firm erection, or the tendency to only have brief erections. While erectile dysfunction and decreased libido is more common with age, it is a condition that is treatable and is not something older men should just accept.

Kidney Stones. Stones are extremely common, especially in the desert environment where people can fall behind on their fluids and dehydration can predispose them to stones. Bladder stones form in the bladder when the urine can’t pass, usually because of an enlarged or obstructive prostate. Urine sediments can coalesce to form stones. Kidney stones form in the kidney and are often caused by diet (high salt, animal proteins) and metabolic abnormalities. Following studies and observation, we can tailor a specific program to treat the stones. Symptoms to watch for are: flank or groin pain, nausea or vomiting, fevers/chills, and blood in urine. Treatments for stones include laser energy to break up the stone, lithotripsy (“shocking ” the stones through the skin), as well as surgical treatments for larger stones.

When should men consult an urologist?

  • If they have symptoms that are annoying enough to bother;
  • Blood in the urine;
  • An elevated PSA blood test or symptoms.

For more information call Walsh Urology at (760) 346.7191 or visit www.walshurology.com.

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