Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is a condition in which the prostate gland becomes enlarged, pressing against and constricting the urethra.
This can make it difficult to urinate. The muscles of the bladder wall contract harder to push urine out through the urethra, but eventually may not be able to empty the bladder.
The chief symptom of prostate enlargement is difficulty in beginning the flow of urine or a dribbling stream while urinating. The patient may also encounter increased frequency and urgency, hesitancy, and interrupted urine flow.
BPH can affect men at any age, but it usually becomes more common as men reach their 40s, with a prevalence of up to 60% in men by age 90.
Treating an enlarged prostate may serve to support sexual health isues such as erectile dysfunction, as severe prostatitis can cause ED directly.
Here’s a collection of facts and information about BPH, as well as diagnosis and treatment options to consider.
What Causes an Enlarged Prostate?
Age is one of the main factors that contribute to an enlarged prostate.
As men age, they may produce less testosterone, the male sex hormone. This increases the proportion of estrogen in the body, which scientists have theorized may contribute to the development of prostate cell growth in the body, causing an enlargement in the prostate.
Another theory highlights dihydrotestosterone (DHT) as a possible risk factor. This hormone is responsible for prostate growth, and scientists have also discovered that men who don’t produce DHT don’t develop benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
For this reason, doctors recommend that men be regularly tested for benign prostatic hyperplasia and cancer in the prostate beginning at age 50.
Enlarged Prostate Symptoms
Symptoms of an enlarged prostate range from mild to severe, depending on the severity of the enlargement. Symptoms usually begin slowly and may not be noticed at first.
As BPH continues to grow, it may cause the following urinary symptoms:
- a weak or interrupted urinary stream;
- an increased urge to urinate—sometimes with a sensation that the bladder is never empty.
- Lower urinary tract symptoms
- Urinary tract infections
- Prostatitis or inflammation of the prostate
- Digestive and kidney diseases
- Prostate cancer
- Urethral stricture
The symptoms of BPH can be problematic when left unresolved. Fortunately, there are treatments for relief.
Diagnosis of Enlarged Prostate
Doctors will ask you several questions about your symptoms before diagnosing an enlarged prostate. They will also perform a physical examination to examine the prostate for any abnormalities.
This diagnosis may include the following exams.
- Urine test: Urine tests can help rule out other disorders that may arise due to ejaculation problems or problems in the bladder and prostate.
- Blood test: Blood tests help find kidney problems.
- Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test: PSA helps determine whether you have an enlarged prostate. It may also be elevated due to recent surgery, cancer, or infections.
- Digital rectal exam: A medical practitioner will insert their finger in your rectum to determine whether you have a large prostate.
Visit a medical professional to get a diagnosis if you’re noticing any of these symptoms, especially if your BPH is accompanied by other symptoms such as urinary tract infection or blood in the urine.
Treatments for Enlarged Prostate
There are several treatment options available to help reduce or eliminate benign prostatic hyperplasia.
If you have mild and tolerable symptoms, doctors may choose to postpone invasive treatment options since it may heal on its own.
However, if symptoms are persistent and gradually worsen, you may be prescribed an assortment of ways to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
These treatment plans typically include the following plans.
Medication is the ideal treatment plan for less severe prostate enlargement symptoms. Common medication includes:
- Alpha-blockers: Makes urination easier.
- 5-alpha reductase inhibitors: Shrink prostate and inhibit prostate growth.
- Tadalafil (Cialis): Often used for erectile dysfunction, but studies also say this helps treat benign prostatic hyperplasia.
- Combination drug therapy: Take both alpha-blockers and 5-alpha reductase inhibitors for better effectivity for certain patients.
Transurethral Microwave Thermotherapy
Using microwave energy and a special electrode, this form of therapy destroys the inner section of the enlarged prostate gland to ease symptoms. Used mostly on small prostates.
A high-energy laser removes prostate tissue with little to no side effects. Can help immediately deal with symptoms, but men shouldn’t have other prostate procedures due to the need to take blood-thinning medicine afterward.
This procedure decreases the blood flow to and from the prostate by blocking it. This decreases the prostate gland’s size.
Minimally Invasive Therapy / Surgical Therapy
If your symptoms are moderate to severe, and other treatment options haven’t worked, prostate surgery may be preferred.
This path is not recommended for people with UTIs, a history of radiation therapy, or neurological disorders. You may also risk experiencing side effects like erectile dysfunction, UTIs, or premature ejaculation, but they’re fairly rare occurrences.
Other Treatment Options for BPH
While the treatments covered above include the bulk of remedies, there are several more ways you can deal with and curb an enlarged prostate.
These include the following methods:
- Open or robot-assisted prostatectomy
- Prostatic urethral lift (PUL)
- Transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP)
- Transurethral incision of the prostate (TUIP)
- Transurethral needle ablation (TUNA)
While the plethora of options may feel overwhelming, it’s not up to the patient to choose their treatment plan. Your doctor will be the one choosing the plan to fit your needs based on your age, health, the severity of your disease, and medical history.
If you have an enlarged prostate and are awaiting treatment, or are told to just watch and manage your symptoms yourself, here are some lifestyle habits to apply to become healthy.
- Limit vices like alcohol and caffeine.
- Don’t hold your urine.
- Try to urinate regularly, such as every 4 or 6 hours.
- Follow a strict diet regimen or program.
- Empty your bladder after every trip to the bathroom.
- Stick to hotter weather to minimize the risk of urine retention from cold weather.
By abiding with the guidelines above, you’ll be able to slow the development of early-onset BPH. But for the best effect, be sure to have a medical professional on call to treat your disease.
Managing Symptoms of Enlarged Prostate with Medical Care
Having an enlarged prostate can be debilitating. Not only can you see a decrease in the quality of your sex life, but it can also be the gateway symptom for many other diseases.
But with the right treatment plan, and the support of positive lifestyle habits, it’s possible to manage these symptoms and live with benign prostatic hyperplasia.
Get in touch with a men’s medical doctor today to initiate your path towards curing any condition you have in your prostate, as well as the repercussions this may have on your sexual health.
The medical professionals at Priority Men’s Medical Center in Atlanta specialize in treating conditions that impact men’s health. Our concierge approach positions your unique case at the centerpoint of our focus. We don’t just give you a pill for ED and send you on your way. We treat the underlying issues that led to conditions such as ED, Low Testosterone, and more. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment.