Andrology

Andrology

What is a TURBT?

Ask any ten year old school kid with an average GK (general knowledge) who a gynecologist is or what gynecology is, and pat will often come the right answer. For some obscure reason, the Greek root 'gynaik', which means 'woman', seems to be very well known to many.

Yet 'andrology', with its exactly identical and obvious Greek roots, is something that many doctors haven't even heard of. What's worse is that many respectable dictionaries don't mention it either. This is despite Yahoo and Google yielding nearly one and a half million links when one enters 'andrology' as the search term.

Confusing the issue further is the fact that, except in a few countries, andrology remains a sub-specialty area within urology. This is probably because, unlike in the female, the same organ (penis) is used for both urination and copulation in the male, and hence the territorial encompassment - and confusion.

And then there are the 'laboratory' andrologists. Many of these people are not physician doctors, but scientists whose specialty fields include biochemistry, animal science, molecular & cell biology, and reproductive technologies. These are non-clinical fields. Their use of the terms 'andrology' and 'andrologist' probably derives from the fact that many of these workers are spermatologists, i.e. scientists who study spermatozoa. Technically speaking, one has to admit that sperms are quintessentially masculine, and hence 'andro'. Yet, this is somewhat akin to calling a scientist who examines urine under the microscope, an 'urologist'.

It is quite obvious therefore, that there's a lot of confusion here and that this nomenclature needs to be reviewed.

Hardly surprising then, that so much ambiguity and ignorance surround not only the term 'andrology', but also many andrological conditions and disorders.

Take impotence or erectile dysfunction (ED). For centuries, impotence has been presumed to be the result of mental (or psychogenic) causes, and countless millions of patients have either undergone ineffective psychiatric treatment, or worse - fallen prey to aphrodisiacs and other thoroughly useless forms of 'medication' dispensed by quacks.

Research has now conclusively shown that impotence has a physical (or physiological) cause in nearly 90% of cases. And like most other physiological problems, impotence is often eminently curable. It is quite unfortunate that often the blame for this is put on the woman and she is labeled 'frigid' instead of the man addressing his problem!

It's the same with male infertility, another very common andrological condition. Even though it is the man who is responsible for nearly 50 % of all childlessness among couples, in many parts of the world it is still the 'barren' woman who is usually blamed.

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