Andrology is a specialised branch of medicine that specialises in the reproductive health of men. This generally involves semen analysis, sperm testing and preservation for later. Andrology is particularly helpful in the case of male infertility and sexual dysfunction.
The word has been derived from the Greek word, Andros, which implies male. This branch of medical science that deals with men’s reproductive system is fairly popular and desired. It can commonly be called a male version of gynaecology.
Also, in recent years, a lot of attention has been given to this field particularly because of the rate of rising infertility in men, increasing awareness about men fertility and prostate issues. Doctors that specialise in diagnosing and treating conditions related to this subject, is called andrologist. Typically, urologists that specialise in the female and male urinary system can also specialise in Andrology.
What is the difference between Urology and Andrology?
The main difference between urology and andrology is that the former is the broader concept, which includes andrology and a few other specialised branches such as oncological urology and paediatric urology.
Overall, urology is also called genitourinary surgery. It is a branch of medicine which involves specialising in surgical and medical issues of the male and female urinary tract system, and of the male reproductive organs. It is one of the most diverse branches of medicine that also covers issues of the kidney, bladder, and prostate. These issues range from incontinence, impotence, infertility, cancer, etc. A urologist is trained to diagnose and treat all such conditions in patients including men, women, children and elderly.
There are several branches in urology comprising of andrology, oncological urology and paediatric urology. Andrology is, therefore, a sub-branch of urology that focusses on the male genitalia reconstruction, sexual dysfunction and fertility issues. This also covers cosmetic defects genitals, sexually transmitted issues, genital mutilation, premature ejaculation, and other men problems such as obesity.
What is included in Andrology?
Andrology encompasses the following men health issues:
Infertility: An Andrologist is very well-trained and holds expertise in treating all kinds of issues related to infertility in men. More so, with the increasing rate of men infertility, this branch of medicine has gained popularity.
Erectile dysfunction: Erectile dysfunction is a condition in which the person is unable to keep up an erection during sexual intercourse. The condition can cause a lot of embarrassment. However, it is easily treatable provided adequate and timely medical help is sought.
Prostate Disease: The prostate is a gland which produces semen in men and is also responsible for causing a lot of health issues in people especially over the age of 50. Some common diseases covered under andrology, include enlargement of the prostate gland, prostatitis, and prostate cancer. If not diagnosed and treated timely, prostate diseases can cause severe health problems and also lead to death in case of cancer.
Male hormone deficiency: This refers to a condition in which the person does not have enough male hormones and thus, lacks specific male-like-attributes.This particularly implies deficiency of androgens. However, this can be easily treated with corrective medications.
Typically, an andrologist can help treat the following conditions:
- Carcinoma of the penis
- Erectile dysfunction
- Penile fracture
- Prostate cancer
- Testicular cancer
- Testicular erosion
- Genitourinary cancers
- Seminal vesiculitis
- Curved penis
- Frenulum breve
- Phimosis foreskin
- Prostatic hypertrophy
Apart from these, there are several other conditions related to the male reproductive system which can be treated by an Andrologist.
What examinations and tests +are used by an Andrologist?
Typically, an andrologist conducts a physical exam and understand the medical history of the patient to diagnose the issue properly. Moreover, the doctor will check the penis and testicles by touch. An andrologist will also check the base of the penis, nerve reflexes and nerve sensitivity.
In other cases, an andrologist can also perform a prostate examination depending on the need of the patient. Moreover, to dig deeper and confirm a particular analysis, the andrologist can recommend further tests including blood tests, urinalysis, urine culture, semen examination, Doppler ultrasound (of the penis or the testicles, particularly).
Some other tests that can be ordered by an andrologist, include testing of drug-induced erections, transrectal ultrasound of the prostate, and nocturnal penile tumescence (NPT).
When to visit an Andrologist?
A person should visit an andrologist, upon experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- Itching in the genitals
- Pain in the genitals
- Redness or abnormal spots in the private male areas
- Swollen testicles
- Bending or shortening of the testicles
- Enlargement of male breasts
- Prostate issue
- Genital trauma that could have caused serious injury
Overall, to ensure good reproductive male health, a person should visit an Andrologist every year after the age of 15. This will help provide any diagnosis of any problem, help in consistently monitoring the reproductive health to avoid future problems and overall maintain good hygiene.