09 June 2015
When it comes to more serious health problems, men are often too shy or embarrassed to come forward and speak to a GP.
Mr Azi Samsudin, consultant urologist at Spire Cheshire Hospital is supporting National Men’s Health Week and urges men to be aware of any changes to their health and to see their GP if they have any concerns.
Most people would be very alarmed by the presence of visible blood in any of their bodily secretions.
Prompt investigations are usually warranted in order to rule out any sinister causes for this worrying symptom, but sometimes patients ignore these signs through embarrassment or ignorance and this can prove harmful to their health. Consequently, there have been many recent health awareness programs that have tried to raise awareness on this sensitive subject, especially in men.
Blood in semen
The first thing to say is that you should not get too alarmed. This condition is usually temporary and can resolve naturally. It is commonly due to a benign cause such as inflammation or infection of the prostate and sometimes due to a small burst blood vessel (much like a nosebleed). Occasionally there is a more serious cause, such as sexually transmitted infection or prostate cancer; your urologist will seek to rule this out.
Blood in semen can be painless and the semen is usually mixed with bright red blood. However, the colour of the semen will change and can get quite dark or rusty with time. This will depend on how often you ejaculate. Possible investigations include genital examination, digital rectal examination of the prostate gland and some blood tests. Sometimes an ultrasound is requested and you may get treated with a course of medication. If the investigations prove abnormal then some patients go on to have a prostate biopsy.
Blood in urine
This is usually a little bit more alarming to the patient. It can be painful or painless and can range from a little spotting of the underwear to bright red discolouration of the urinary stream. Sometimes it is not visible to the naked eye and is picked up on urine tests at the GP surgery. As a general rule, any presence of blood in urine in patients aged 40 years and above needs investigation.
Common causes of blood showing in urine include urinary tract infection, kidney or bladder stones, sexually transmitted infections, prostate enlargement, bladder cancer and kidney cancer. Occasionally the source of the blood is from the back passage or vagina in women.
Patients should always visit their doctor if blood shows in their urine. Investigations can include rectal examination in men or vaginal examination in women, urine testing and blood tests. You will then require either an ultrasound or CT scan of the kidneys and bladder, followed by a diagnostic test involving the passage of a small scope into the bladder under local anaesthetic.
Treatment of the condition will depend on the cause of the blood. Infection is usually treated with antibiotics but if a growth is found then you may need further invasive surgery to remove it.