Many of us are oblivious to changes in our bathroom habits because they occur gradually over time and we don't really notice. We may assume that these changes are a normal part of aging. Or we may be in denial about these issues because we are afraid that a doctor's exam may cause us embarrassment.

Some symptoms that appear to be related to the urinary tract may be temporary and caused by diet, fluid intake or other circumstances. Other consistent or recurring symptoms deserve further investigation. You should see a urologist when you are experiencing any of these symptoms:

  • discomfort while urinating
  • difficulty in completely emptying your bladder
  • incontinence, a loss of urinary control
  • hematuria, the appearance of blood in the urine
  • pain that appears to be related to one of the structures of the urinary tract
  • problems with sexual function
  • infertility, difficulties involved in conceiving a child

Examination & Evaluation

The urologist will review your symptoms and conduct an exam to find any areas of discomfort and tenderness or enlargement and swelling. You may be asked to provide a urine sample to test for evidence of an infection, blood, sugar or protein, which may be associated with diabetes or kidney conditions. You may have a blood test to evaluate the function of your kidneys and/or check for other conditions.

Dr. Jensen with a patient

After your exam, the urologist may order imaging studies (ultrasound, CAT scan, MRI, etc.) to help evaluate the structures of your urinary tract and look for any abnormalities. Other tests may include a urodynamics study to evaluate the storage of urine in the bladder and the flow of urine from the bladder through the urethra or a cystoscopy to examine the lining of your bladder.

After reviewing the results of your exam and testing, the urologist will recommend how your symptoms, conditions or abnormalities may be treated. These recommendations may include observation (wait and see), lifestyle or habit changes, medication and/or surgery.