What is Urology?
A urologist is a medical specialist. Officially, urology is considered to be a surgical specialty, because urologists can perform both diagnostic procedures and other surgeries. However, not all urology problems will require surgery. Urologists are also clinical practitioners. They are responsible for examining patients, reviewing medical histories, diagnosing medical problems, and recommending treatment options. Within the specialty of urology, there are also subspecialties. These doctors may focus on a particular field of urology, such as cancer or pediatric urology. Other urologists may specialize in male infertility, female incontinence, urinary disorders, or urinary tract stones.
Why Visit a Urologist?
Symptoms that may lead you to visit a urologist often involve problems with your urination. You may experience difficult urination. You may have a burning pain during urination. Sometimes, patients notice blood in their urine or on the toilet paper. Other patients may seek help for frequent urination during the night. Men who seek a urologist’s help may suspect that they have erectile dysfunction. They may experience impotence. Other patients may have problems with urinary incontinence, which is involuntary leakage of urine.
Preparation for Your Visit
Going to your first urologist visit properly prepared can make the appointment run smoothly and help your doctor in making an accurate diagnosis. You’ll likely need to bring your referral number and your insurance card. Before you go, ask your primary care physician for copies of all your relevant test results. Bring these test results to your urologist. They may include urinalysis, blood tests, or x-rays.
It is also helpful to write down a list of all the medications and supplements you are currently taking, as well as the dosages. Many patients find it helpful to write a list of their symptoms so that they don’t forget to mention anything to the doctor. A list of symptoms can include how long you’ve experienced a certain symptom and to what extent it interferes with your daily activities.
Frequently Asked Questions
Bring a list of questions to ask your doctor for your first urologist visit. Ask him if he has been board-certified by the American Board of Urology. While this certification is not mandatory, it will reassure you that your doctor meets high standards for quality health care. You should also ask your doctor if the medications you are currently taking are appropriate for your condition. Discuss all possible treatment options, and whether you may need a second referral for a urologist with a subspecialty. Ask the urologist about possible long-term outcomes.
Your urologist will also ask you questions to help provide an accurate diagnosis. Be prepared to discuss your symptoms and your complete medical history. The doctor will also likely ask you how your symptoms interfere with your daily activities, as well as whether any treatments you are already on appear to be effective.
Your doctor may want to run some tests during your first visit, in addition to a routine physical exam. He may run tests on your urine and blood. You may also undergo a pelvic exam and possibly x-rays. Sometimes, tests are scheduled for a later date, rather than on your first visit. For example, if you undergo a cytoscopy, which is an examination of the bladder, this will not likely happen on the first visit. When a diagnosis is reached, carefully consider all possible treatment options with your urologist.