Enlarged Prostate (BPH)
An enlarged prostate gland is a very common condition. The prostate is a golf ball sized gland in men. It is located underneath the bladder and in front of the rectum. It is very common for a prostate gland to enlarge with age.
As the prostate gland grows larger, it presses against the urethra, the tube that transports urine. This leads to difficulties with urination. The exact cause of an enlarged prostate is unknown and unpreventable. It is treatable with lifestyle changes, medications, or surgery.
The prostate gland is located underneath the bladder and in front of the rectum. The prostate gland surrounds the urethra. The urethra is the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the penis.
Doctors do not know all of the functions of the prostate gland. One function of the prostate gland is to add fluid and nutrients to sperm to make semen. The fluids and nutrients energize the sperm and make them move more effectively.
The prostate gland has two growth spurts. During puberty, the prostate gland doubles in size. The second growth period is at about age 25. The prostate gland grows again and continues to grow throughout a man’s life.
It is very common for the prostate gland to grow larger as men age. This condition is called Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) or Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy. The enlargement usually does not cause symptoms before the age of 40, but many men experience BPH in their sixties, seventies, and eighties.
As the prostate gland enlarges, it presses against the urethra. The pressure causes the urethra to narrow and the bladder to work harder to eliminate urine through it. The bladder wall becomes thicker and irritable. The bladder may contract even when it contains only a small amount of urine. Eventually, the bladder wall weakens and is unable to completely empty the urine. This leads to the symptoms associated with BPH.
A Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test is ordered to rule out cancer. BPH does not cause cancer. BPH is not cancer, although a person may certainly have prostate cancer and BPH at the same time. Doctors commonly screen for cancer during an examination for BPH because some of the symptoms of cancer and BPH are similar.
Your doctor may refer you to an urologist. An urologist is a doctor who specializes in diseases of the urinary and genital tract. The urologist may conduct tests to identify how fast your urine flows and the pressure at which it flows. You may also be tested to determine how much urine is left in your bladder after you urinate. The urologist may use a cytoscope to view your prostate gland and determine the extent of your condition. A cytoscope is a thin tube with a lens and a lighting system. The cytoscope is inserted through your penis, after your penis is completed numbed with a solution.
Men with mild symptoms can make lifestyle changes to help improve their symptoms. You should go to the bathroom as soon as you feel the urge to urinate and whenever you have a chance to use the bathroom, even if you do not feel the need to urinate.
You should drink fluids throughout the day instead of all at once. It can be helpful not to drink fluids two hours before bedtime. Additionally, avoid drinking alcohol and caffeine, especially after dinner. Some over-the-counter medications can make the symptoms of BPH worse. You should talk to your doctor before using cold or sinus medicines that contain decongestants or antihistamines.
Cold temperatures and a lack of physical activity can make symptoms worse. You should stay warm and exercise regularly. You should strive to relax. Nervousness can cause more frequent urination.
Your doctor may prescribe medication to treat your BPH. Some medications can prevent the prostate gland from growing larger or cause it to shrink. Another type of medication relaxes the muscles in the bladder to improve urine flow. Additionally, antibiotics can reduce prostate gland inflammation.
Surgery may be recommended if you have loss of bladder control, repeated blood in your urine, repeated urinary tract infections, or if your bladder does not empty completely. There are several different types of surgical procedures. The goal of surgery is to remove part of the prostate gland to relieve the pressure on the urethra. Most men experience a relief of symptoms after surgery; however, BPH can redevelop over time in some people.
Am I at Risk
There are no definite risk factors for BPH. BPH develops in men that have testes. Men that have had their testes removed do not develop BPH. BPH tends to develop as men age. It is more common in men over the age of 40 and very common in older men.