The Big 3 of Men’s Urologic Health

Man-Speaking-With-DoctorYou’ve likely never heard of it, but chances are, you know someone suffering from it.

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) is a medical condition that affects 50 percent of men 50 years and older. It’s embarrassing, uncomfortable and not something you talk about at the dinner table. It’s also one of the “Big 3”—the three most common urinary issues men face as they age, and unfortunately, usually keep to themselves.

1. Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia

A man’s prostate is the walnut-shaped gland below the bladder that will naturally grow as he ages. Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) happens when the gland starts to grow and block the urethra, said Tia Rapps, RN, Community Cancer Education coordinator with Memorial Health’s Regional Cancer Center. This makes urine flow difficult and causes the bladder to not empty completely. What’s that mean? You or the person sleeping next to you is waking up three to four times in the middle of the night to head to the bathroom.

“Many men think it’s just part of aging and ignore the symptoms,” Rapps said, “but there are many treatments that can improve the condition. And if left unchecked, it can actually cause damage to your bladder.”

2. Prostate Cancer

This is the most common cancer in men. According to the National Prostate Cancer Foundation, one in seven men will develop it in their lifetime. Early detection is key. Your primary care physician can do an in-office screening and, if diagnosed, will discuss your risk group.

“Early-detected prostate cancer doesn’t necessarily need treatment,” Rapps said. “Often times, men can live with early-stage prostate cancer under what’s called ‘active surveillance.’ That means working with a physician to monitor the cancer and then determining together when treatment is best.”

3. Erectile Dysfunction

This common problem is almost always associated with another condition, according to Rapps. Cardiovascular disease, diabetes and neurological issues can all lead to erectile dysfunction. Patients who have had prostate surgery, a traumatic accident or sports injury may also be at risk.

“If this is happening to you, talk to your doctor,” Rapps said. “There is possibly something more serious going on and you risk something worse by not seeking medical advice.”

Bottom line—don’t be afraid to discuss concerns about your urologic symptoms with your doctor.

“Life’s too short to live with treatable conditions,” Rapps said. “Your doctor can potentially improve your quality of life, but you have to talk about it.”