An enlarged prostate is a condition that many men suffer from, but few wish to talk about it.
With the latest statistics showing that by the age of 60, 50% of men will have some symptoms of BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia), it’s time to tackle the rising epidemic.
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) occurs when the prostate expands to twice or even three times its regular size.
As a result, the growing prostate gland gradually presses against the urethra, restricting urinary flow. This results in a range of urinary problems.
Risk factors for prostate enlargement include; age, ethnicity, family history.
While an enlarged prostate doesn’t necessarily mean you have prostate cancer, it could be a result of BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia).
An enlarged prostate can result in painful and embarrassing urinary problems, so to give you a hand, here are the 5 signs and symptoms of BPH to watch out for.
1) Frequency and Urgency
Many of us find ourselves woken by an overactive bladder, and while this might happen once in a while, men with an enlarged prostate will experience frequent urination.
If you find that your sleep is constantly disrupted by the urge to urinate, this might be one of the first signs of an enlarged prostate. This is called “nocturia” and is defined as having to urinate eight or more times per day.
At times, this urge to urinate may be urgent. This is as the enlarged prostate gland puts increased pressure on the urethra and bladder, making it increasingly difficult to hold in urine.
A second common sign to look out for difficulty urinating and urinary hesitancy. As your prostate presses on the urethra, it can block urine from the bladder going out through the penis. This makes it hard to start a urine stream, and you may find yourself with the inability to urinate.
It can also cause a weak or delayed urine stream, especially at the end of urination. This is referred to as “dribbling of urine.”
3) Pain during urination
The pressure on your reproductive organs and urinary tract can be painful. Some men feel the need to push urine out, which makes it even more painful.
In more severe cases, pain may also be due to infection, which is a result of an untreated enlarged prostate.
One of the issues with an enlarged prostate is that it can block the flow of urine from the bladder, which prevents it from emptying completely. This increases the chance of bacteria growing, increasing your risk of developing an infection.
Prostatitis, which is an inflammation of the prostate, is also a form of urinary infection and will need to be treated.
4) Urinary retention
Urinary retention is when you are unable to empty the bladder completely. It is both a symptom and complication of an enlarged prostate. If you experience this issue, it is important to seek immediate medical care. There are two forms of urinary retention — acute and chronic.
Acute urinary retention will last a short period, while chronic urinary retention remains persistent. The doctor will have to insert a tube known as a catheter into the bladder to drain the urine.
If the condition is severe, the urologist may recommend surgery to remove some of the enlarged prostate tissue or to make cuts in the prostate to widen the urethra possibly.
5) Blood in urine
If you are finding blood in your urine, this could be a possible sign that you have an enlarged prostate. This is known as, and there are two forms.
Microscopic haematuria is when blood is detectable only under a microscope.
Gross haematuria is when the presence of blood in the urine is obvious, and the urine looks red, pink, or brownish.
Urinary incontinence is the involuntary leakage of urine. This usually occurs when control over the urinary sphincter is either lost or weakened.
Treatment for an Enlarged Prostate
As men age, their prostate naturally grows larger, but if you are experiencing these signs, you should act. Such BPH symptoms can affect you physically and emotionally, and if left untreated, result in serious complications.
Alpha-blockers are a class of prescription medications commonly prescribed to treat BPH. There are several medications available as alpha-blockers. These medications are:
- Tamsulosin (Flomax).
- Alfuzosin (Uroxatral).
- Doxazosin (Cardura).
- Prazosin (Minipress).
- Silodosin (Rapaflo).
- Terazosin (Hytrin).
They are used to relax muscles around small blood vessels.
By preventing the muscles from tightening, they can help improve blood flow and lower blood pressure.
However, it is essential to note that they can have adverse side effects. Some of the most common side effects include loss of libido, erectile dysfunction, drops in blood pressure, and headaches/nausea.
Finasteride is a 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor, meaning it prevents the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase from converting testosterone into DHT.
Avodart works just like Finasteride and is commonly used in combination with alpha-blockers like Tamsulosin. This is done to provide a rapid onset of symptom relief for patients with severely enlarged prostate glands. Such combination significantly improves urine flow and prevents bladder outlet obstruction.
Prostate surgery to remove the prostate gland can treat your symptoms. The intervention will depend on the severity of your symptoms.
Your doctor will help you determine the best surgery based on your circumstances. Common surgeries include:
- Prostate Turp (Transurethral resection of the prostate)
- Radical prostatectomy
- Prostatic urethral lift
- High-intensity focused ultrasound
- Urolift procedure
- Prostate artery embolization (PAE)
Prostate volume (size) is a critical consideration in selecting the best surgical intervention for your BPH because complications increase with prostate volume.
Natural supplements have also been shown to be effective in the management of BPH.
Saw palmetto is the most commonly used herbal supplement for treating lower urinary tract symptoms.
It works by inhibiting 5 alpha-reductase enzyme activity, an enzyme that converts free testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
A review of 17 double-blinded studies examined the effects of pygeum africanum for treating BPH. The results showed that patients were 35% more likely to show symptom improvement. There was also a reduction in urinary retention, improved urine flow, and a reduction in night time incontinence.
Beta-sitosterol is another supplement that has been proven to relieve symptoms associated with BPH.
It can be sound in plants, rice bran, wheat germ, corn oils, soybeans, and peanuts. Herbal extracts like saw palmetto, rye grass pollen, pygeum africanum, and contain beta-sitosterol. These extracts are used for treating BPH, and beta-sitosterol may be the key ingredient.
Clinical trials show beta-sitosterol increases the maximum urinary flow rate by about 45%, and men report improved urinary symptoms.
Natural is the way to go. Not only will natural remedies help to heal your prostate, relieving you of uncomfortable symptoms, but they will do so without side effects.
Powerful natural extracts such as beta-sitosterol, as mentioned above, have been revered for its healing ability, with studies demonstrating it can improve urinary flow, decrease prostate size, and diminish urine retention.
Along with the natural supplements discusses, you should have a healthy diet and regular exercise. These will increase your hormone levels and reduce the effect of natural remedies.