Frequently Asked Questions

How common is prostatitis?
Genitourinary symptoms are a common cause for visits to a provider's office, and prostatitis is a common diagnosis in these circumstances. It can affect young men, while BPH and prostate cancer are more typical of older men. Because prostatitis varies in severity and because it has attracted little attention from researchers, no one knows how many men suffer from it, but the usual statistic quoted is that over 50 percent of all men will suffer from it sometime in their life.

When should I seek treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)?
If you are experiencing symptoms of BPH that are affecting your quality of life, such as losing sleep because you need to wake during the night to urinate, you are unable to urinate, you are unable to delay urination, have hesitancy, or a weak urine stream, check with your urologist to discuss if it is time to seek treatment.

BPH is not cancerous and is not life threatening, but it does create bothersome symptoms that can significantly impact quality of life.

What are the long-term risks of BPH?
If left untreated, BPH can progress and cause subsequent medical issues. When the bladder does not empty completely, you become at risk for developing urinary tract infections (UTIs). Other serious problems can also develop over time, including bladder stones, blood in the urine (hematuria), incontinence, or urinary retention. In rare cases, bladder and/or kidney damage can develop from BPH.

How common is prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer in America, affecting one in eight men. It is estimated that more than three million American men are living with prostate cancer. A non-smoking man is more likely to develop prostate cancer than he is to develop colon, bladder, melanoma, lymphoma, and kidney cancers combined.

Do high PSA levels mean I have prostate cancer?
Not necessarily. High PSA levels can also indicate benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). If your PSA levels are elevated, your provider will do other tests to find out what is causing the elevated PSA levels.

What are the possible side effects of prostate surgery?
After prostate surgery, the possible complications include impotence and urinary incontinence, although nerve-sparing techniques may reduce the risk of these complications.

In those few cases where removal of the testicles is required to manipulate hormones, some bruising and swelling can occur but this will gradually disappear. The loss of testosterone production can lead to problems with sexual function, osteoporosis, and loss of muscle mass.

How often should I do a testicular self-exam (TSE)?
Some providers recommend monthly testicular self-examinations, or TSEs, for men over the age of 15. To detect testicular cancer, all men should be familiar with the size and feel of their testicles, so they can be aware of any changes. A TSE should be conducted following a warm bath or shower, when the skin of the scrotum is relaxed. After looking for any changes in appearance, carefully examine each testicle by rolling it between the fingers and thumb to check for any lumps. If you discover any irregularities during a TSE, or if you experience any symptoms, be sure to notify your provider immediately.

Is it normal to have one testicle that's bigger than the other?
Yes. It is common for guys to have slightly different size testicles. Usually, the right testicle is larger than the left. Also, one testicle (usually the left) often hangs lower than the other.

How does testicular cancer affect fertility?
Testicular cancer or its treatment can make a man infertile. Before treatment starts, men who wish to have children later may decide to save sperm in a sperm bank for future use. In some cases, this may be difficult because testicular cancer can cause low sperm counts. If one testicle remains, fertility may return, either temporarily or permanently after treatment. If both testicles are removed, sperm cells cannot be produced and a man becomes infertile.

If I have testicular cancer, will I still be able to have sex?
Generally, yes. Most testicular cancer survivors do not experience loss of sexual function.