Fundraising Manager, The Urology Foundation
We need to talk about bladders, erectile dysfunction, incontinence and male infertility. Does this make you feel uncomfortable or embarrassed? If so, you are not alone…
It is estimated that one in two people in the UK will be affected by a urology condition at some point. Urology diseases include cancers of the prostate, kidney, bladder, testes and conditions such as erectile dysfunction, incontinence and male infertility.
One in three women are affected by incontinence in their lifetime and at least one in 10 men suffer from erectile dysfunction. This unnecessary embarrassment is something we all need to move on from if we are to improve survival and quality of life for sufferers.
By creating greater awareness of the disease, we can help save lives as more people are aware of the symptoms.
The benefit of these conversations is manyfold. By creating greater awareness of the disease, we can help save lives as more people are aware of the symptoms. It also helps sufferers to be able to talk more easily with friends and family and even employers about what support they will need.
Sadly, it is far too common for a urology disease to impact on mental health. In addition to the fear caused by having a urological cancer (although many are now very treatable if caught in time), non life-threatening conditions such as erectile dysfunction and incontinence cause great distress because of the devastating impact they have on people’s everyday lives.
Embarrassment certainly plays a part, but so does isolation, and the stigma that so often surrounds these diseases.
Celebrities speaking out
We are fortunate in having well known public figures who are willing to share their experiences, such as Stephen Fry and Bill Turnbull talking about prostate cancer, comedian Rhod Gilbert about male infertility and ex England rugby player, Alex Corbisiero, on his testicular cancer.
Speaking out makes a very real contribution to breaking down the taboos around these conditions and enabling people to have the conversation.
In the last few years there has been a new forum for people to open up these conversations. Everyday people who are suffering from urology conditions have become activists by picking up on the most difficult parts of being a patient and sharing their stories on social media to help educate and inform others.
Talking to your GP
The worst outcome of embarrassment is when it causes people to delay seeing their GP or health care professional. Early diagnosis for so many conditions, especially urology cancers, is key and all too sadly there are people that will literally die of embarrassment because they went too late. Please don’t be that person, so let’s talk.