Louise de Winter
CEO, The Urology Foundation
Creating awareness of urological health is not easy, as issues such as incontinence, bladder cancer, kidney disease or erectile dysfunction are rarely covered in the mainstream press, nor are they topics easily discussed over the dinner table.
We set up Urology Awareness Month because there is a lot of stigma surrounding urology health, fuelled by a lack of public information about urological conditions.
We decided it was high time to make the public familiar with urology health risks, and to help them take responsibility so that they do not suffer in silence.
Removing the stigma and ending suffering
Urological conditions are extremely prevalent (one in two of us will suffer from them), affecting the kidneys, bladder, prostate and male reproductive organs.
This prevalence, plus the rising cases of urological cancers, is why it is important to remove the associated stigma and encourage conversations that could end the suffering that severely impacts quality of life.
Diagnosing a urology cancer early is crucial to one’s chances of survival. Similarly, opening up about ‘embarrassing’ symptoms will help sufferers to get the right treatment quicker.
Yet, public polling has shown us that a significant proportion (circa 40%) say they would avoid or delay seeking treatment or talking to people about a urological problem.
Polling also shows us that the public are more inclined to self-medicate for symptoms such as UTIs and incontinence rather than to go to a GP for a diagnosis or help.
While this is understandable, we would inject a note of caution, which is to say that persistent or recurrent UTIs should be properly investigated by your GP so that the correct medication can be administered, and also to check that symptoms are not masking a more serious underlying problem. GPs can also help to improve bladder function to reduce incontinence.
Increasing knowledge through Urology Awareness Month
Early intervention is the key to saving lives but also to ensuring that people can live better and live well through managing their conditions effectively.
Now in its sixth year, Urology Awareness Month has taken on a life of its own. Throughout the month, teams of experts and patients aim to increase public awareness of our urology health and also to raise funds for much needed research into these diseases.
So, join us this September in raising awareness and removing the negative connotations and taboos around urology health. No one should feel they have to deal with these diseases in silence.