When Should I Worry About...

6 Signs It's Time to See a Urologist

Feb. 22, 2023

Bladder issues, pelvic pain, problems in the bedroom and other urologic symptoms aren't just inconvenient and uncomfortable. They can be seriously worrisome.

If you have concerns related to your urinary tract or sexual health, your first step may be to see your primary-care provider.

But if the issue requires further evaluation or treatment, the primary-care provider may refer you to a urologist.

What is a urologist?

A urologist is a specialist who provides medical treatment to both men and women experiencing problems of the:

  • Bladder
  • Kidneys
  • Urinary system
  • Reproductive systems

A urologist will review your symptoms, ask about your health history and perform a complete physical exam.

"Depending on your symptoms, we may order blood or urine labs, imaging studies, such as computed tomography ( CT) scans, or perform diagnostic procedures," says Dr. Michael Brooks, a urologist at Houston Methodist.

When to see a urologist

Here are six signs you should consider seeing a urologist:

1. Urinary tract infections (UTIs)

Women who experience recurring UTIs (two or more infections in a six-month period or three or more episodes within a year) may be referred to a urologist for further evaluation.

"For men, any urinary tract infection is considered complicated and should be evaluated by a urologist," adds Dr. Brooks.

2. Incontinence issues

If you're experiencing urine leakage or the need to go frequently or urgently, a urologist can help.

"In many cases, lifestyle changes, medication or surgical treatments can improve your bladder symptoms," explains Dr. Brooks.

(Related: Will Urinary Incontinence Go Away on Its Own?)

3. Pelvic pain

Pelvic pain that doesn't go away is not normal and should be evaluated by a doctor.

Unexplained pelvic pain can be related to benign conditions or could be a warning sign of more serious diagnoses of the pelvic organs.

4. Kidney stones

Symptoms of kidney stones include:

  • Sharp pain in the lower abdomen, typically on one side
  • A burning sensation or pain while urinating
  • Urinating frequently
  • Feeling like you're urinating incompletely or in small amounts
  • Urine that is brown, red or pink, which indicates the presence of blood
  • Smelly or cloudy urine
  • Feeling queasy or nauseous due to the intensity of the pain
  • Signs of infection, including fever, chills and vomiting

(Related: How Long Do Kidney Stone Symptoms Last?)

"Any blood in the urine, in the absence of an infection, should be evaluated as soon as possible," notes Dr. Brooks.

5. Prostate problems

Men should see a urologist for issues such as:

  • Difficulty emptying the bladder
  • A weak stream
  • Painful urination
  • Blood in urine

These symptoms can be a sign of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), also known as an enlarged prostate.

"Benign enlargement of the prostate can be treated with a combination of medications or minimally invasive surgical techniques," says Dr. Brooks.

6. Sexual dysfunction in men

Urologists are experts in sexual and reproductive health for men, including treatment of:

(Related: Does COVID-19 Affect Male Fertility?)

Men, don't forget to stay up-to-date on prostate cancer screening

Once it's appropriate for your age, prostate cancer screening becomes part of your routine check-up with your primary-care doctor.

Men at high risk for prostate cancer, including Black men and those with a strong family history of prostate cancer or other cancers diagnosed at a young age, should talk to their doctor about screening starting at age 40 or 45.

Men at an average risk for prostate cancer should talk to their doctor about screening at age 50.

Prostate cancer screening starts with a simple blood test to check PSA (prostate specific antigen) levels. If your PSA is elevated, your doctor will refer you to a urologist for follow-up screening.

"It's important to have conversations about prostate cancer screening and detecting prostate cancer at earlier stages, even before symptoms are present," says Dr. Brooks.

Stay up-to-date
By signing up, you will receive our newsletter with articles, videos, health tips and more.
Please Enter Email
Please Enter Valid Email
Categories: When Should I Worry About...