Four urogenital symptoms men should never ignore
How knowledgeable are you about your urogenital health? Concerning the male genitourinary system, it encompasses organs that are essential for urinary and reproductive genital health such as the kidneys, urinary bladder, prostate, testes, penis, and other structures.
When men have problems or concerns involving these organs, there is sometimes a reluctance to mention any urologic concerns to a doctor on account of embarrassment about the issue.
There are certain symptoms however, that always require medical attention and delays in seeking out treatment may result in severe lifelong health consequences.
Here are four red flags that your urogenital health may be seriously at risk and that you must urgently see an urologist.
You experience a continuous and painful erection lasting several hours –
A painful continuous erection that persists for greater than four hours and arises in the absence of sexual stimulation is known as priapism.
When priapism occurs, there is no relief of the symptoms even with ejaculation. The type of priapism that is the most worrisome is ischemic priapism, which results when blood is unable to be drained from a penis that is erect. It’s a urological emergency that may lead to penile necrosis (tissue death) that can’t be reversed.
There are various reasons why priapism may occur in males. In some cases of priapism, it may happen due to the use of medication for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. Priapism may also be a complication of sickle cell disease. Sometimes the etiology of the condition is simply unknown.
Treatment may include blood aspiration, meaning that a doctor would use a needle to remove blood from the engorged penis. Administration of vasoconstrictive medication is also another treatment modality. Nonetheless, priapism is a serious condition that must never be ignored.
You have rapidly progressing genital skin discoloration/break down plus foul odor
If you ever experience a rapidly progressing genital skin discoloration or break down in conjunction with the symptoms of genital pain, foul odor, and fever, then there may be great concern for Fournier’s gangrene. It is a type necrotizing fasciitis of the external genitalia and perineum. Though the condition is rare, it tends to occur more in men versus women. There is also an increased risk of the condition in those with chronic medical conditions like diabetes or other health problems leading to an immunocompromised state e.g. HIV. Treatment may include administration of intravenous antibiotics and removal of the necrotic tissue via surgical intervention. The condition may ultimately be life threatening and early treatment is crucial.
You feel severe testicular pain
Testicular pain is another major red flag that you must urgently seek evaluation from an urologist.
Testicular torsion is a serious condition that can cause testicular pain. It may occur when the testicles rotate and the blood supply is cut off from the region on account of twisting of the spermatic cord. Acute severe pain and scrotal swelling are the mainstay symptoms. Torsion may be diagnosed via physical exam and ultra sound of the scrotum and a surgical procedure known as detorsion may be necessary for treatment. If such intervention does not occur in a timely fashion, then one may face the complication of lifelong testicular damage and infertility.
Epididymitis is another condition in which a male may experience severe testicular pain. It’s an inflammation of the epididymis (a tube shaped structure that carries sperm). The onset of pain with epididymitis tends to be more gradual as compared to testicular torsion. Additionally, it is often accompanied by painful urination. Epididymitis can occur as a result of bacterial sexually transmitted infections like gonorrhea and chlamydia. Treatment typically includes antibiotics and pain medication.
You notice blood your urine (hematuria)
Blood in the urine always warrants medical evaluation and further work up. This is a symptom that must be mentioned to your doctor. When blood in the urine is seen only with a microscope it is known as microscopic hematuria; when it is detected visibly with the eyes, it is called gross hematuria. Hematuria may arise due to a wide range of reasons including bladder infections, kidney stones, and may even be incited by a long and vigorous workout.
Experiencing recurrent gross painless hematuria is quite concerning as the symptom may be associated with a malignancy such as bladder cancer. Other bladder cancer symptoms to be aware of include weight loss and changes in urinary frequency or urgency. When there is suspicion for bladder cancer, the work up to diagnose the problem may include a cystoscopy procedure to visualize the bladder, urine cytology (microscopic urinary analysis), and even a CT scan.
Here is the takeaway—no matter how embarrassing a health concern seems to be, you must always discuss the problem with your doctor. It’s more than likely that the doctor has seen and heard it all before, so don’t be ashamed to speak up. Suffering in silence is never a prudent decision and putting off treatment may ultimately cause further unnecessary damage to your health.
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