Enlarged Prostate Treatment Options
Enlargement of the prostate (a gland in the male reproductive system that produces some of the fluid in semen) can be an uncomfortable condition. However, it is also considered relatively normal, affecting almost all men as they age.
This post will have all the information you need on an enlarged prostate, also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). We will talk about enlarged prostate treatment, its symptoms, and whether or not it is preventable.
What is BPH (Enlarged Prostate)?
As men age, the prostate naturally begins to increase in size. The precise cause of this change is unknown. However, it is thought to be related to the function of the testicles. When men have their testicles removed from a young age, usually as a result of an injury or testicular cancer, BPH does not develop. When the testicles are removed in men with BPH, the prostate returns to a normal size. However, testicular removal is not generally used as a cure for BPH, since it is an example of the cure being worse than the disease.
For most other men, the prostate starts to slowly increase in size starting around the age of 40. While it is an extremely common occurrence, it is not a very dangerous condition. BPH is not the same thing as prostate cancer, and it is not a sign of prostate cancer. But it can be uncomfortable. Some of the symptoms of BPH include:
- Difficulty urinating, either difficulty starting or straining to continue
- Weak flow of urine
- More frequent or urgent urination
- Waking up in the middle of the night to urinate
- Accidentally leaking urine (urinary incontinence)
Because the symptoms of BPH are all mechanical consequences of pressure on the urethra, as opposed to any sort of infection or inflammation, the condition does not generally cause any long-term damage. However, struggling with urination or needing to go frequently can make it more difficult to enjoy your usual activities, and may even lead to an embarrassing situation.
How is BPH Treated?
If your symptoms are only moderate, you may not need any treatments at all. In this case, the best course of action is to monitor symptoms for any increase in severity and go about your life as normal, managing as best as you can.
However, if the symptoms are getting severe, it may be time to seek treatment. Some treatment options for BPH include:
There are several types of medication that can be used to treat BPH. These include alpha blockers, which do not decrease the size of the prostate but help relax the muscles of the urethra to make urination easier. 5-alpha reductase inhibitors are used, which reduce the size of the prostate by blocking the hormones that cause it to grow in the first place. Tadalafil (Cialis) is also used, which is an erectile dysfunction medication that can also help treat prostate enlargement. Your doctor may also recommend a combination of these medications depending on your unique needs.
For more serious cases, surgery may be helpful. Surgical options generally involve the removal of prostate tissue or creating incisions in the prostate to allow for an easier flow of urine. There are several procedures your doctor may consider, and the precise surgical procedure that is best for you will depend on your unique case.
Can BPH Be Prevented?
Unfortunately, the answer is no. Most men will experience prostate enlargement at some stage of their life. The precise age it occurs can vary from man to man, and it is unknown precisely what triggers it. But no matter when it occurs, there are no surefire ways to prevent it.
The only method known for sure to stop BPH is the removal of the testicles, which have been shown to contribute to the hormonal changes that cause BPH.
However, the minor inconveniences of BPH are almost certainly not worth the trauma and side effects of removing the testicles, which for young men would include losing the ability to father children and an embarrassing and disfiguring change in anatomy. You’d be hard pressed to find a doctor who would recommend removing the testicles to prevent BPH and you would be just as hard pressed to find a man who would want to!
However, for men who lose their testicles to other illnesses or injuries, staving off BPH is a happy bit of compensation for that loss and suffering. For the rest of us, BPH is an unavoidable but manageable part of life as a mature man. If you are concerned that your prostate may be enlarging, or you are experiencing any of the symptoms described in this article, please talk to your doctor. You may be a simple pill or a small procedure away from seeing the relief you need and getting on with your life.