The prostate is a small gland found in men that helps produce semen. It is located just below the bladder, in front of the rectum, and surrounds the tube that carries urine and semen out of the body. As men age, the prostate usually increases in size in a process called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), which means that the gland is enlarged without becoming cancerous. An enlarged prostate can put pressure on the bladder and urethra, resulting in a narrowing of the urethra and causing several symptoms such as a slow or delayed onset of urination, the need to urinate frequently during the night, difficulty emptying the bladder, a strong and sudden need to urinate, and incontinence.
Less than half of all men with BPH have symptoms of the disease or their symptoms are mild and do not limit their lifestyle. Your doctor may ask you to fill out a form to assess the severity of your symptoms and the effect they have on your daily life. Your provider can use this score to determine if your condition worsens over time. The treatment you choose will be based on the severity of your symptoms and how much they bother you. Your provider will also consider other medical problems you may have.
If you're over 60 years old, you're more likely to have symptoms. However, many men with an enlarged prostate have only minor symptoms. Self-care measures are usually enough to make you feel better. If you have BPH, you should have an annual exam to monitor your symptoms and see if you need treatment changes. Alpha-1-blockers are a class of medications that are also used to treat high blood pressure.
These medications relax the muscles of the bladder, neck, and prostate. Most people who take alpha-blockers notice an improvement in their symptoms, usually 3 to 7 days after they start taking the medication. Finasteride and dutasteride lower the levels of hormones produced by the prostate. These medications also reduce the size of the gland, increase urine flow, and decrease BPH symptoms. You may need to take these medications for 3 to 6 months before you notice your symptoms improve.
Possible side effects include decreased sexual desire and impotence. Antibiotics may be prescribed to treat chronic prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate), which can occur with BPH. BPH symptoms improve in some men after antibiotic treatment. Many herbs have been tried to treat prostate enlargement. Many men use saw palmetto to relieve symptoms.
Some studies have shown that it can help with symptoms, but the results are mixed and more research is needed. If you use saw palmetto and think it works, ask your doctor if you should still take it. The choice of which surgical procedure is recommended is generally based on the severity of the symptoms and on the size and shape of the prostate. Most men who undergo prostate surgery have an improvement in urine flow rates and symptoms. Dihydrotestosterone levels are the same in men with and without BPH; doctors still don't know why some men develop prostate enlargement while others don't. However, we still need more studies on the causes of prostate enlargement to know for sure if and how we can prevent it.
This hormone stimulates the proliferation of certain cells in the prostate, resulting in an enlarged prostate. Some studies show that obese men and men who have diabetes may be more likely to develop an enlarged prostate. You may not have all of these symptoms, and some men with an enlarged prostate may not have any symptoms at all. If you have bothersome symptoms, medications can reduce the size of your prostate and relax your bladder and prostate so that you don't constantly feel the need to go to the bathroom. During a digital rectal exam, the doctor will insert a finger into the patient's rectum to feel the prostate and check for enlargement or other abnormalities. Since prostate enlargement is a common condition affecting men as they age, it's important to know what it means for your health and lifestyle. Treatment options are available and are based on the severity of symptoms, how much they affect lifestyle, and other medical conditions.
Men with BPH should see their doctor once a year to monitor their condition and decide on treatment as needed.