September is Urology Awareness Month.
This is a yearly campaign to shine the spotlight on problems affecting the female urinary system and the male genitourinary tract.
During the month The Urology Foundation hopes to continue the fight against urology disease by raising awareness of the signs and symptoms and breaking down the associated stigmas with many conditions.
At Benenden Hospital there is a team of urology consultants treating a range of conditions from prostate disease and kidney problems to andrology and haematuria investigations (blood in urine).
There is also a dedicated continence care team who treat bladder problems. The team see more women than men and believe this is because men are often reluctant to talk about such concerns.
Continence care nurse Mary Barker said: “No-one really wants to talk about their bladder problems but we have found that men are more reluctant than women to come forward.
“The problem has got better over the years though. There are now articles in magazines and there are posters on the doors of public toilets. People are more willing to talk about it and it’s not as taboo as it used to be."
Mary said that it is when bladders begin to affect people’s daily routines that they knowthey need to seek help. In the first instance they should see their GP. If necessary they would then be referred to a consultant or a nurse led continence care service, such as the one at Benenden Hospital.
For some there might be a simple solution. It might just be a dietary change which is needed, for instance, someone might be drinking too many fizzy drinks or caffeine, resulting in a need to the toilet frequently or urgently. For others the problem might be that they need to drink more water, not drinking enough can result in frequent urine infections.
Other problems can be treated with bladder training, pelvic floor exercises, medication and in some cases surgical intervention. Some patients will be treated with a mixture of options.
Benenden Hospital has recently introduced a service called PTNS. This is for private patients only (other urological and continence care services are open to private patients, members of Benenden and NHS patients through the e-referral scheme).
PTNS is Percutaneous Tibial Nerve Stimulation is for patients with overactive bladder syndrome. The treatment involves inserting a small, slim needled electrode near the ankle. The needle electrode is then connected to a battery powered stimulator. Mild impulses from the stimulator travel through the needle electrode, along the leg and to the nerves in the pelvis that control bladder function. Patients have an initial consultation followed by a series of 12 weekly sessions and then a re-assessment. Sessions last 30 minutes, during which patients can relax in a chair. PTNS is offered to patients for whom conservative treatments have not worked and whom might not want or might not be considered as needing more invasive procedures. An estimated 70% of patients respond positively to PTNS.
Jan Chaseley, Clinical Nurse Specialist for Continence Care at Benenden Hospital, said: “The introduction of PTNS has enhanced the excellent treatment options available for our patients and is carried out in the nurse-led clinic.”
To find out more about urological and continence care services at Benenden Hospital please visit: http://www.benendenhospital.org.uk/TreatmentAndServices/Continence-Care/What-continence-care-service-does-benenden-hospital-provide.aspx (**link**)
For the on The Urology Foundation please visit: www.theurologyfoundation.org