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What is Urology?

Urology is the medical and surgical specialty that focuses on the male and female urinary tract.  Urology also includes the study of the male reproductive organs including the testicles, epididymis, vas deferens, seminal vesicles, prostate and penis.

The urinary tract consists of the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra.  The kidneys are a pair of bean shaped organs, found either side of the backbone, just below the ribs.  The kidneys filter the blood of waste products to produce urine.  Urine collects in a hollow area in the centre of the kidney, (known as the pelvi-calyceal system).  Each kidney is connected to the bladder by a slender tube, called the ureter, which drains urine from the kidneys to the bladder.

The bladder is essentially a muscular bag located in the pelvis for storing urine.  When the bladder is full, nerve signals are sent to the brain and at an appropriate time and place the bladder is emptied to the outside world through a pipe, called the ‘urethra’.  The urethra has a sphincter muscle that remains closed most of the time to keep the urine from leaking out inappropriately. 

In the male, the urethra is also connected to the ejaculatory ducts to allow semen to be propelled from the tip of the penis during sexual intercourse.  The prostate is a gland at the base of the bladder, which adds fluid to the sperm as they enter the urethra from the ejaculatory ducts.  It is shaped like an American doughnut, essentially a gland with a hole in the middle, and the urethra passes through that hole. If the prostate enlarges for any reason, the hole in the middle of the doughnut gets smaller, making it progressively more difficult for the bladder to squeeze the urine past the prostate.