Professor Chris Chapple
Secretary General, EAU
‘As men get older it is said that he who is master of his destiny often becomes a servant to his bladder’
When it comes to seeking advice, it is often men who prefer to put things off. But this ‘wait and see’ approach can often be detrimental to their quality of life.
After all, both men and women are predisposed to urinary tract problems – especially as they get older. As of the age of 50, more men suffer from increased urinary frequency which may disturb sleep and generally interfere with quality of life. It is therefore perhaps no surprise that with an ageing population, an increase in diseases affecting function of the bladder and male erectile function, such as diabetes and obesity, occur.
Men find it hard to talk about symptoms
Men tend to make light of the situation and whilst this can be all well and good for raising the spirits, there is very much an attitude of ‘it won’t happen to me’. And certainly, although it is common, voiding difficulty, increased urinary frequency, erectile dysfunction or more sinister findings such as finding blood in your urine are topics that men might find hard to open up about. It is important for them to speak up and realise that some conditions such as prostate cancer can develop silently.
Men need to accept that there is a strong likelihood that they or someone they know will suffer a urological condition at some stage of their lives.
A lot of information on urological issues can be found on the internet. Some of this information comes from trusted authorities, like hospitals, but quite a lot of it comes from unreliable and biased sources. It is important to look for a dependable source of patient information on the internet like EAU Patient Information, enabling patients and their family to educate themselves more easily.
Finding the right information, from the right sources
To that end, as healthcare professionals, we are perhaps guilty of using jargon that can mystify our patients slightly. There is so much information out there that urological health can seem very confusing to someone unaware of typical symptoms or treatments. It is a urologists job to advise and guide patients and facilitate a patients’ struggles to find recent and up-to-date material.
If men and their families are well-informed they can better face the reality of these problems. I believe this could empower them to take more ownership of their medical care and facilitate their decisions.
Women tend to have more open and frank conversations about urological health. This means that, often, a male patient will only present when accompanied by their partner, in many cases one fed up of being woken in the night by frequent bathroom visits! The urologist is to me exactly like the gynaecologists’ role for women, dealing with all aspects of urinary abnormalities for both men and women.
Men need to accept that there is a strong likelihood that they or someone they know will suffer a urological condition at some stage of their lives. Having knowledgeable resources or the ability to ask a healthcare professional, are important tools that more men should access.
However, only by talking more openly about these conditions and spreading this information can we really equip the people who might need it the most.