The BMJ Today: Urinating more frequently or having to go in the middle of the night? Yes—use this tool

I’m a sucker for interactive quizzes. Which Harry Potter character most reflects your personality? Which fictional literary character is most like you? How well do you know London—can you identify the London borough where this picture was taken? I’ve done them all!

As a health journalist, I know where to find risk assessment questionnaires online and do those too, so I can tell you that I have a low risk of a cardiovascular event in the next 10 years and that I am not clinically depressed at the moment. I also know where to find symptom algorithms, which I often look at if I have a health problem to make sure I access the right services and get the most appropriate care. But I have to say most of these are not, shall we say, user friendly.

Now there’s a new thing that I’d definitely be trying if I was a man. The BMJ has developed an interactive tool for urinary symptoms in men.

The tool is based on the international prostate symptom score (IPSS) and really simple to use. The user simply slides a series of levers tied to symptoms along their sliders to indicate how bothersome each symptom is. It takes seconds. The tool then calculates the overall symptom score; indicates whether it is mild, moderate, or severe; and outlines what type of treatment is likely to be required. A man could use the tool alone or a GP could use it with a patient.

If I was a man I’d definitely be trying it out. I’m not, but I tried it out anyway. It seemed to work, because the tool indicates that I don’t have any problems with my prostate. My symptom score is off the scale in a good way—a definite zero.

On a serious note, the urinary symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia can be extremely bothersome for older men, and have a significant impact on their quality of life. Less than a minute spent using this tool could be the first step to starting to address that.

Ingrid Torjesen is a freelance news reporter for The BMJ.

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