Overview of Urogenital Disorders

What does urogenital mean?

Urogenital is a word that refers to the urinary and genital organs.

Urology is the branch of medicine concerned with:

  • The urinary tract in both genders.

  • The genital tract or reproductive system in the male.

Urologists are doctors who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of conditions related to the urinary tract and the male reproductive system. Other health professionals who treat urinary or urogenital problems include primary care doctors, pediatricians, gynecologists, urogynecologists, and nephrologists.

Overview of the male anatomy:

Illustration of the anatomy of the male reproductive tract

  • Anus. The opening at the end of the digestive tract where bowel contents leave the body.

  • Bladder. A triangle-shaped, hollow organ located in the lower abdomen that holds urine. It is held in place by ligaments that are attached to other organs and the pelvic bones. The bladder's walls relax and expand to store urine, and contract and flatten to empty urine through the urethra.

  • Penis. The outer reproductive organ of a male.

  • Rectum. The lower end of the large intestine, leading to the anus.

  • Scrotum. The bag of skin that holds the testicles.

  • Testis. One of the pair of male gonads that produce semen; suspended in the scrotum by the spermatic cords.

  • Tunica vaginalis. A thin pouch that holds the testes within the scrotum.

  • Urethra. A narrow channel through which urine passes from the bladder out of the body. The brain signals the bladder muscles to tighten, which squeezes urine out of the bladder. At the same time, the brain signals the sphincter muscles to relax to let urine exit the bladder through the urethra. When all the signals occur in the correct order, normal urination occurs.

Overview of the urinary tract

The urinary tract or system includes the organ system primarily responsible for cleaning and filtering excess fluid and waste material from the blood:

  • Kidneys

  • Ureters

  • Bladder

  • Urethra

The kidneys also function as glands that produce hormones necessary for building red blood cells and regulating blood pressure.

What is the male urogenital system?

The male urogenital tract includes the following:

  • Testes

  • Efferent ducts

  • Epididymis

  • Ejaculatory ducts

  • Ductus deferens

  • Urethra

  • Penis

  • Accessory glands:

    • Prostate

    • Seminal vesicles

    • Bulbourethral

What causes problems in the urinary system?

Problems in the urinary system may include conditions such as kidney failure, urinary tract infections, kidney stones, prostate enlargement, and bladder control problems. These problems in the urinary system may be caused by the following:

  • Aging. As we age, changes in the structure of the kidneys can cause them to lose some ability to remove wastes from the blood, and the muscles in the ureters, bladder, and urethra tend to lose some of their strength.

    Urinary infections may occur because the bladder muscles do not tighten enough to empty the bladder completely. A decrease in strength of the muscles of the sphincters and pelvis, which may be associated with age, can also cause incontinence.

  • Illness or injury. Damage to the kidneys caused by illness or an injury can also prevent them from filtering the blood completely or block the passage of urine.

Are urogenital diseases common in the United States?

Diseases of the kidney and urinary tract remain a major cause of illness and death in the United States. The National Kidney Foundation states that more than 26 million Americans are affected by kidney and urologic diseases, and millions more are at risk.

What are the symptoms of a kidney and/or urinary tract disease?

The following are the most common symptoms of a kidney and/or urinary tract disease. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • Frequent headaches

  • Fatigue

  • Itchiness all over the body

  • Burning or difficulty during urination

  • Frequent urination, particularly at night

  • Infrequent urination

  • Blood in the urine

  • Loss of appetite

  • Nausea and/or vomiting

  • Puffiness around eyes and/or swelling of hands and feet

  • Darkening of the skin

  • Muscle cramps or pain in small of back just below the ribs (not aggravated by movement)

  • High blood pressure

The symptoms of a kidney and/or urinary tract disease may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.