In honor of Bladder Health Awareness Month (every November!), here are three more bladder-related questions we haven't addressed on the blog before. We posed them to Dr. James M. Fitzgerald, who works out of our North Easton and Dedham Care Centers.
As with all content on Greater Boston Urology's blog, the following information is educational in nature, not medical advice. Always talk to your physician about your specific questions concerning bladder health.
[Editor's note: This article was reviewed and updated on 9/22/21.]
Q: What’s the biggest misconception about the bladder that you’ve encountered in your medical career?
Dr. Fitzgerald: The biggest misconception I've encountered with respect to bladder health is the belief that only women have bladder problems while men have "prostate problems." In fact, many men have an overactive bladder either independent of, or in addition to, an enlarged prostate.
Men who have symptoms, such as urinary frequency, urgency, waking at night to urinate, may have these symptoms from either an enlarged prostate, an overactive bladder, or a combination of both.
The good news? We can help men with these conditions. Talk to your primary care physician and/or schedule an appointment with one of our urologists. Remember, your quality of life matters.
Q: Cranberry supplements. Good, bad, or is the jury still out?
Dr. Fitzgerald: There is data that supports use of cranberry supplements to reduce the risk for recurrent UTIs (by making it harder for bacteria to attach to the bladder wall) while other studies have not been as convincing or have contradicted this data.
Overall, the benefits seem to outweigh the risks, so we typically recommend cranberry supplements for preventing UTIs. However, it is important to realize that they are not effective for treating UTIs.
Q: When it comes to bladder tests/treatments, many people hold off being seen by doctors due to embarrassment and/or fear of what various tests might be like. What do you have to say regarding both?
Dr. Fitzgerald: Yes, understandably, patients are often embarrassed and fearful. Men, especially, are sometimes reluctant to seek help for bladder conditions because they are embarrassed to do so. In addition, they are often fearful of diagnostic tests and procedures. All of us at GBU strive to reassure patients and make them comfortable.
The good news is that many diagnostic tests and treatment options are not invasive. But even when a patient needs to have one that is more invasive, I find that most people are pleasantly surprised that it "wasn't nearly as bad as I expected." Usually the anticipation is worse than the event, which is why I can't stress it enough: if you're experiencing unusual symptoms, pain, or discomfort—get checked. We're here to help.
Thanks, Dr. Fitzgerald!
If you're dealing with bladder problems or other urologic issues, consider making an appointment with one of our urologists.