BPH Symptoms: Is an enlarged prostate a problem for me?
BPH (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia), is the enlargement of the prostate gland. BPH is common and impacts nearly half of all men in their 50’s and more than 90% of men over 80 years of age. This growth may be natural but can be problematic when it interferes with normal bodily functions such as urination and sexual performance. It is important to understand that BPH is benign and is not cancerous. However, BPH and some forms of cancer may happen simultaneously and have similar symptoms.
What is the Prostate?
The prostate is part of the male reproductive system and plays a critical role in the production of semen. Its central location in the system means that any changes to the prostate will impact the normal function of surrounding vessels and organs. This includes the urethra which travels through the center of the gland before entering the penis.
This gland goes through two natural growth cycles, the first is at puberty and the second begins around age 25 and continues throughout adulthood. It is during this later phase that BPH symptoms begin to develop. When the prostate continues to enlarge, it may cut off the natural flow of fluid through the urethra. Issues with urination are often the first signs of BPH.
Because the urethra travels through the center of the prostate, many of the early signs of BPH deal with issues related to urination. As the prostate continues to enlarge, symptoms will increase in frequency and severity. BPH may lead to bladder complications, urinary tract infections, kidney damage, and other related issues. In some of the most severe cases, BPH can lead to the inability to urinate which is a critical emergency medical issue.
Common Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia symptoms may include:
As the enlarged prostate pinches the urethra, it frequently blocks, interrupts, or reduces the flow of urine from the bladder into the penis. This results in difficulty trying to empty the bladder.
- Difficulty when starting to urinate – A sensation that you need to urinate but cannot get the urine stream to flow.
- Difficulty maintaining normal urine flow – When normal urine flow starts and stops frequently during urination. This can also be experienced as an unnaturally weak urine stream that does not allow the bladder to empty appropriately.
- Difficulty pushing or straining to maintain urine flow – Urination should flow naturally without the need for excessive muscle strain or pushing.
- Difficulty stopping urination – When urine continues to drip at the end of urine flow.
Other symptoms of BPH include bladder sensations that make it difficult to sleep or relax. These feelings may result in restlessness and discomfort.
- Full bladder – A sensation that the bladder is full despite having just been emptied.
- Urgent urination – The sensation that you must urinate immediately.
- Frequent urination – The feeling that you must urinate too frequently, usually less than two-hour intervals
- Nighttime patterns – Increasing need to urinate at night, resulting in interrupted sleep.
Researchers are constantly working to understand more about the root causes of BPH. However, there is no clear understanding of the underlying issues that cause abnormal growth of the prostate. BPH does appear to be related to natural male hormone changes that occur with aging. Other hormones in the body also play a role in activating excessive cell growth in the prostate.
BPH Risk Factors
The greatest risk factors for an enlarged prostate are age and family history. Prostate growth rarely produces symptoms before the age of 40, but by age 80 nearly 90% of men report symptoms of BPH. Having an immediate blood relative with BPH increases the likelihood that you will have symptoms.
Other issues may also increase risk or be a contributing factor to BPH symptoms. These include:
- Lack of physical exercise
- Erectile dysfunction (ED)
- Diabetes & Heart Disease
- A side effect of certain medications
BPH Treatment Solutions
Treatment options for BPH have never been safer, more effective, and personalized to meet the needs of each specific patient. The most common BPH treatments include:
Sometimes the best solution is to “wait-and-see”. Under the expert guidance of an experienced physician, this can be a safe and effective response to BPH symptoms.
Medication can result in BPH symptom relief, although BPH medications alone do not address the underlying issues and may not provide long-term results. An experienced urologist can design a medication regimen that addresses potential side-effects and results in maximum effectiveness.
Surgical solutions for BPH have become more effective and less invasive than ever. These include:
Transurethral Resection of the Prostate (TURP) - TURP is the most common BPH surgery and involves scraping prostate tissue to relieve pressure. Surgical risks may include excessive bleeding and the risk of erectile dysfunction.
Greenlight Laser Prostatectomy (PVP) - This outpatient solution uses a laser to remove prostate tissue and results in minimal bleeding. Sexual side-effects are not reported with PVP.
This FDA-cleared minimally invasive treatment specifically addresses the underlying cause of BPH symptoms by lifting the prostate and releasing pressure on the urethra. The UroLift® treatment is delivered through the urethra without the need for an incision. This modern approach may help patients avoid pills and surgery while enjoying all of the benefits of BPH symptom relief.