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The prostate is a small, muscular gland in the male reproductive system. Your prostate surrounds your urethra and produces most of the fluid in your semen. The muscular action of the prostate helps propel the fluid and semen through your penis during sexual climax.
Benign prostatic hypertrophy, or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), occurs when the cells of the prostate gland begin to multiply. These additional cells cause your prostate gland to swell, which squeezes the urethra and limits the flow of urine.
Obstruction may be so severe that no urine can leave the bladder at all. This is called bladder outlet obstruction (BOO), and it’s a complication of BPH. It can be dangerous because urine trapped in the bladder can cause urinary tract infections (UTIs) and damage your kidneys.
BPH is not the same as prostate cancer. It’s a benign condition that doesn’t increase the risk of cancer. BPH is a common condition in men over the age of 50.
The symptoms of BPH are often very mild at first, but they become more serious if they aren’t treated. Common symptoms include.
Tell your doctor if you’re concerned about any symptoms you’re having. These symptoms are treatable, and prompt treatment will prevent complications.
BPH is considered a normal condition of male aging, and it’s estimated that over half of men over the age of 80 have BPH symptoms. Although the exact cause is unknown, changes in male sex hormones as you age may be a factor. Any family history of prostate problems or any abnormalities with your testicles may raise your risks for BPH. Men who’ve had their testicles removed at a young age don’t develop BPH.
Evaluation for BPH begins with a physical exam and review of your medical history. The physical exam includes a rectal examination that allows the doctor to estimate the size and shape of your prostate. Other tests can include the following:
Treatment of BPH can begin with self-care. If symptoms don’t subside through self-care, medication or surgery may be recommended. Your age and general health will also influence the prescribed treatment. Self-care includes the following:
Other treatment options include:
Alpha-1 blockers are medications that relax the muscles of the bladder and prostate. Alpha-1 blockers relax the neck of the bladder and make it easier for urine to flow. Examples of alpha-1 blockers include:
Medications that reduce the levels of hormones produced by the prostate gland such as dutasteride and finasteride are commonly prescribed. These are two medications that lower the levels of testosterone. Sometimes, lowering the hormone levels will make the prostate get smaller and improve urine flow. However, these medications may also lead to undesired side effects such as impotence and a decreased sex drive.
Antibiotics can be used if your prostate becomes chronically inflamed, a condition known as prostatitis. They can be prescribed when this inflammation of the prostate accompanies BPH. Treating prostatitis with antibiotics can also improve your symptoms of BPH. Antibiotics are also helpful for treating UTIs. These infections can occur whenever urine flow from the bladder is decreased.
There are minimally invasive procedures available that may be used in an outpatient setting.
These involve inserting an instrument into your urethra and into the prostate gland. Non-surgical alternatives include the following:
Surgery in a hospital setting might be recommended if you have any of the following symptoms:
Surgery can relieve symptoms of BPH, but BPH can return even after surgical intervention. Here’s a list of surgeries for an enlarged prostate.
Men who have a long-standing history of BPH may develop the following complications:
Many men ignore their symptoms of BPH. However, early treatment can help you avoid potentially dangerous complications. Call your doctor if you’re urinating less than usual and your bladder isn’t emptying completely. Let your doctor know if you have:
Also, talk with your doctor about any medications you’re taking that might be affecting your urinary system, such as:
Your doctor can make any necessary medication adjustments. Don’t attempt to adjust your medications or doses yourself. Let your doctor know if you’ve taken self-care measures for your symptoms for at least two months without noticing any improvement.
BPH doesn’t always require medical treatment. Sometimes, your doctor will want you to have regular checkups to monitor your symptoms and the size of your prostate.
Lifestyle changes, medication, and surgery are all treatment options for symptoms that are affecting your quality of life. Your doctor will work with you to develop a treatment plan that helps you manage your symptoms and live a regular life.
Written by: Verneda Lights and Matthew Solan
Published on: Aug 07, 2012
Medically reviewed on: Dec 21, 2015: [Ljava.lang.Object;@20e07278
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