Urologists Crucial In The Progression Of Men's Health In Canada
Education and Advocacy The definition of men’s health currently varies depending on the individual or health care professional who is asked.
“It is within the mandate of our specialty to destigmatize such urological illnesses and both facilitate and encourage men to seek care for them rather than accept their problem as an inevitable fate.”
As opposed to the definition, the concept and scope of men’s health care is evolving and has at its core, the average four to five year shortened life expectancy for males compared to females in developed countries. Despite increases in each genders’ life expectancy over the years, the gap between the two has remained.
The role of urologists
Urology is historically defined as the medical specialty that focuses on both medical and surgical diseases of the urinary tract in males and females along with care of the male reproductive organs.
Due to fundamental differences between men and women, including: the age expectancy gap, patterns and risk of individual diseases and health care acquisition patterns, gender-specific health care models are evolving. Men’s health care is championed by urologists, while women’s health care is led by gynecologists.
Removing the stigma
The scope of urological practice is broad and many conditions treated by urologists are male-specific. Several conditions are directly related to age progression. One of the more common ailments treated by our specialty is voiding dysfunction.
In men this is commonly related to overactive bladder and/or benign prostatic hyperplasia which results in prostatic enlargement that may obstruct the bladder outlet. Erectile dysfunction is another urological condition that can be directly related to the aging process.
These conditions are common as one ages and have a multitude of possible treatments. A man’s quality of life may be dramatically improved after appropriate assessment and treatment of each. These are two examples of diseases within the urological realm that are often very sensitive issues for the individual who has them.
It is within the mandate of our specialty to destigmatize such urological illnesses and both facilitate and encourage men to seek care for them rather than accept their problem as an inevitable fate. Prostate cancer comprises a large part of urological care; this will remain the case as other disease priorities enter our field that are related to the broader concept of men’s health.
Evolution of men’s health
The Canadian Urological Association has members from many urological fields of expertise. Our membership would include the following subspecialists: uro-oncology (urological malignancies), pediatric urology, endo-urology (stones), reconstructive urology, male infertility, erectile dysfunction, generalists and transplant urology.
As gender-specific health care issues evolve our vision is to have men’s health as another urological subspecialty. This evolution of men’s health will bring with it medical education and research that will solidify it within the urological realm.
As the concept of men’s health evolves, a broader scope for the care of our patients is being considered. An example of this would be the inclusion of mental health within the definition of men’s health.
Men often perceive mental health issues as a source of embarrassment and consequently will not seek relevant care, thereby placing men with mental health issues at risk. This mental health example does exemplify the evolving definition of men’s health to include both male-specific diseases, i.e., prostatic and penile; and male at-risk diseases (mental health and cardiac disease). It is the refinement of this concept that may well facilitate a narrowing of the gap of male versus female life expectancy.