Listen up, gentlemen. You may be getting older and wiser. But if you’re not paying attention to — and acting on — changes in your urination habits, you’re not making the smart bet on health.
You may be experiencing a weak urine stream, a sensation like urination is incomplete or an increase in the number of times you wake up to use the bathroom — often three to four times a night. You may even see your urine turn a pinkish-reddish color.
All these signs are things you need to talk over with your doctor — even if the symptoms seem like they are fading or disappear. They could signal a health problem.
Take care of business
Men often are reluctant to see a doctor when they notice a change in their bathroom habits, says Kripa Kavasseri, MD, a urologist at Cleveland Clinic’s Mentor Medical Office Building and Willoughby Hills Family Health Center.
“It’s important for men to see a urologist and deal with prostate and other urologic issues sooner than later,” Dr. Kavasseri says. “Their symptoms may disappear over time, but the underlying cause of the issues may still be there”
Blood in the urine, for example, may indicate kidney stones or a urine infection. It also can be an early warning sign for cancer, especially bladder and kidney cancer. Other urination changes can signal prostate problems.
Pay attention to prostate problems
Common prostate problems include enlargement, infection and cancer.
An enlarged prostate can cause difficulty with urination and emptying of the bladder.
Infections can be bacterial or chronic. Bacterial infections are marked by frequent urination, pain in the bladder and pelvis and sometimes fevers and chills. Symptoms come on suddenly. Bacterial infections can be cured with antibiotics.
Chronic infection is marked by chronic inflammation of the prostate gland. Symptoms vary but can include pain in the pelvic region, including the penis and testicles, frequent and urgent urination and burning with urination. Your urologist can help you decide the best management approach.
Prostate cancer is the leading form of cancer among men. It generally has no early physical signs. Prostate cancer usually is curable if discovered through a cancer screening and caught at an early stage.
Are you at risk?
If you fit one or more of these factors, you are at a higher risk for prostate health issues:
- As men get older, their prostates increase in size, which can contribute to difficulty urinating. Chances of prostate cancer also increase with age. A large prostate does not increase the risk for cancer.
- Black men tend to be diagnosed at a younger age and have a more aggressive form of prostate cancer.
- Strong family history of prostate cancer increases your chances of developing the disease.
What you should do
To prevent prostate cancer , a panel of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network recommends baseline PSA screening for healthy men ages 50 to 70 every one to two years, based on the results of clinical trials.
The majority of the panelists actually recommend baseline testing for men ages 45 to 49, too.
Have a conversation about the pros and cons of prostrate screening with your doctor. For African-Americans or those with a family history of prostate cancer, ask if screening should begin even earlier.
Dr. Kavasseri often hears men say that they are confused about prostate cancer screenings or are unaware of them. Other men tell her they believe that prostate screening is not very important.
“That is so far from the truth,” she says. “Screening often gives men peace of mind, knowing they are fine. For others, it can mean finding cancer early enough to be cured. It does not automatically mean that they will have to go through unnecessary testing. If we do find a problem, we can help solve that problem. They just have to take the first step.”