Urology Care: The Link Between Obesity and Urological Conditions

November 21,2023 |
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71.2% of the adult population of the U.S. today is considered either overweight (31.6%), obese (39.6%), or severely obese (7.7%). The obesity rate in the United States has more than doubled in the last 50 years and is having catastrophic effects on health and wellness. Obesity causes tend to be related to lower activity levels, bigger portions, more stress, and the convenience and price of processed foods, but long-term effects impact both men's and women's health. For more information, consider the impact of obesity and several urologic conditions.

How is Obesity Defined?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), overweight and obesity are defined as having an abnormal or excessive body fat accumulation that presents a direct risk to your health. It's measured by body mass index (BMI). Individuals with a BMI over 25 are considered overweight, which is still a significant risk factor for poor health. Those with a BMI over 30 are considered obese. Class III obesity (formally known as morbid obesity) is defined as having a BMI of 40 or higher.

Although there are several causes of obesity, poor diet and exercise are the primary risks. However, some individuals suffer from metabolic syndromes that can cause an increase in weight gain. If you notice unexplained weight gain that begins to contribute to obesity, see your doctor to undergo testing.

Effects of Excess Weight Gain on Overall Health

Obesity is a risk factor for several chronic conditions and can be detrimental to your urologic health. Being overweight and obese can lead to an increased risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, reproductive issues, respiratory problems, joint pain, and more. The more body fat you have, the higher risk you'll experience. Obesity in America is not only widespread, but it can lead to premature death and a decreased quality of life.

Obesity and Kidney Function

The kidneys are pivotal in filtering waste products and maintaining fluid balance within the body. However, excess body weight places them under unnecessary strain, which can cause damage to the intricate structures within these organs. In fact, several studies have shown that a high BMI can increase your risk of future renal failure. Some other ways obesity impacts your kidneys include:

Kidney Stones

Obesity not only puts kidney function at risk but also increases the risk of developing kidney stones, which are hard deposits of minerals and salts that can form in the kidneys. In individuals with excess body weight, the increased strain on the kidneys can lead to changes in urine composition, making it more conducive to stone formation. Additionally, obesity is often associated with dietary choices that promote stone development, such as a high intake of foods rich in oxalates and sodium. If you think you have a kidney stone and are unable to pass it, see your doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

Kidney Cancer

The connection between obesity and kidney cancer is another cause for concern. Studies have shown that the risk for kidney cancer can double in obese individuals compared to those with a healthy weight. The exact reasons behind this aren't fully understood, but it's believed to be related to hormonal changes and chronic inflammation that are paired with obesity. Additionally, excess body fat can produce chemicals and hormones that promote the growth of cancer cells. Since we know that obesity can increase the development of renal cell carcinoma, it's important to work with your doctor to lose excess weight and undergo regular tests.

Obesity and Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence (UI) is the loss of bladder control that causes you to leak urine unintentionally. There are a few different types of UI, but the ones with the highest prevalence tend to be stress and overflow. Stress urinary incontinence occurs when extra pressure on your bladder causes you to leak urine, such as after sneezing, laughing, exercising, coughing, or lifting something heavy. Overflow incontinence (urinary retention) occurs when you're unable to completely empty your bladder, which can cause dribbling or overflow during the day. Mixed UI is when more than one type, like overflow and stress incontinence, occurs.

Urinary incontinence in individuals with a high BMI is significantly more common than those of a healthy BMI. This is especially problematic for overweight and obese women, as the female anatomy is more susceptible to lower urinary tract symptoms and different types of incontinence. If you notice any signs of UI, see your urologist to better understand your treatment options.

Obesity and Overactive Bladder

Obesity can also contribute to the development of overactive bladder (OAB), a condition characterized by a sudden and uncontrollable urge to urinate. The extra weight can put added pressure on the bladder and pelvic muscles, making it more challenging to control urinary urgency and frequency. While the symptoms of overactive bladder can include incontinence, they're two separate urologic diseases. Managing obesity through weight loss and exercise can help alleviate the symptoms of OAB and improve overall urologic health, which is often associated with an increased quality of life.

Body Mass Index and the Male Reproductive System

Obesity may also cause multiple urologic conditions that affect the male reproductive system. Obesity increases the risk of low testosterone, erectile dysfunction, prostatitis, and prostate cancer.

Low Testosterone

Obesity is strongly associated with low testosterone levels (hypogonadism) in men, which is a hormone responsible for several essential functions. Unfortunately, the excess fat can disrupt hormonal balances, which results in a reduction in testosterone production. Over time, this can negatively affect muscle mass, energy levels, mood, and sexual function. If you're struggling with obesity and low testosterone, see your doctor for personalized treatment.

Erectile Dysfunction

The link between obesity and erectile dysfunction is also clear. Overweight or obese men have a higher risk of developing erectile dysfunction. This is because excess fat around the waist can cause compressed blood vessels, which reduces blood flow to the penis and other extremities. This can negatively impact your sex life, as it may be increasingly difficult to achieve or maintain an erection as BMI increases.


Being obese can also increase the sympathetic nervous system, resulting in inflammation throughout the body. This can directly increase the risk of prostatitis, which is the inflammation of the prostate gland. Prostatitis can cause a range of urinary symptoms and discomfort in men. Maintaining a healthy weight can contribute to better urological health and a decreased risk of common health complications like prostatitis.

Prostate Cancer

Obesity has also been linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer and several other types of cancer. While the relationship between the two is complex and involves several hormonal factors, the correlation is clear. If you have a high BMI or a family history of prostate cancer, talk to your urologist about screenings for early detection.

Decreasing Your Risk of Urologic Conditions

If you don't make any changes to your health and weight, you're likely to develop one or more of the complications discussed above. Luckily, you can take back control of your weight and live a healthier lifestyle. You'll need to start by seeing your doctor to rule out any metabolic conditions that could be causing unexplained weight gain. You should also see a nutritionist and talk to your doctor about weight loss options. While it can seem like an uphill battle, the sooner you get started, the sooner you'll decrease a preventable risk factor for urinary and reproductive conditions. Always talk to your doctor before starting a new diet or exercise routine and before taking any medications or supplements.

Treatment for Urologic Conditions Caused by Obesity

There are some treatment options for serious urologic conditions that occur from the impact of obesity. However, if you want them to be successful and reduce the need for ongoing care, the most important thing you can do is work with your doctor to lose unnecessary weight. Obesity affects almost every system in your body, so it's important to work with health professionals to ensure that your weight doesn't have a lasting negative impact on your life.

To help you manage any urologic conditions associated with increased body fat, Byram Healthcare is here. We carry a wide selection of high-quality urologic products that can help you take back control of your life. To learn more, or to speak with a professional regarding questions or ongoing management, contact Byram Healthcare today.