Prostate enlargement, also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (or BPH for short), is a common condition among adult males. In fact, it affects approximately 50 percent of men aged 51-60 and up to 90 percent of men aged 80 and up.
Are you suffering from an enlarged prostate or suspect that you are? If so, keep reading. Explained below are some of the causes of enlarged prostates, as well as some effective treatment options you may want to consider.
Symptoms of Prostate Enlargement
Everyone’s experience with prostate enlargement is a bit different, of course. In general, though, prostate enlargement results in trouble with urine flow.
Remember, the prostate is located below the bladder. The urethra (the tube responsible for urine transportation) passes through the prostate’s center. If the prostate becomes enlarged, urine flow gets blocked.
Because of the prostate’s location, you can expect these symptoms to occur when you’re dealing with BPH:
- A frequent and/or urgent need to urinate
- Increased nighttime urination frequency (also known as nocturia)
- Difficulty beginning to urinate
- A weak urine stream
- A urine stream that stops and starts
- Dribbling when you’re finished urinating
- An inability to completely empty the bladder
Some other symptoms are less common. This includes frequent urinary tract infections, an inability to urinate, and the presence of blood in your urine.
The severity of your symptoms isn’t determined by the level of prostate enlargement you’re experiencing. Some men who have severe symptoms might only experience slight prostate enlargement. On the flip side, men with mild symptoms could have prostates that are significantly enlarged.
What Causes Enlarged Prostates?
It’s not totally clear why prostate enlargement occurs. However, some medical experts believe that it has to do with changes in sex hormone levels, which typically occur as men age.
It should be noted, too, that a certain amount of prostate growth is considered to be normal. The problem is when it becomes so enlarged that it blocks urine flow.
Some men may face a greater risk of severe prostate enlargement than others. The following are some well-known risk factors that could increase your likelihood of dealing with this condition:
The older you are, the more likely you are to experience prostate gland enlargement. Men who are younger than age 40 rarely deal with prostate issues, but the same is not true for men who are in their 50s or older.
2. Family History
If prostate issues run in your family, there’s a greater chance that you’ll experience them. For example, having a blood relative like a brother or father who has prostate problems increases your likelihood of developing them, too.
3. Diabetes and Heart Disease
Certain chronic diseases, including diabetes, can increase your risk of prostate enlargement. Heart disease and the use of certain drugs known as beta-blockers can increase your risk as well.
Those who are obese and sedentary are more likely to deal with prostate enlargement. They’re also more prone to other prostate health issues (including prostate cancer). On the other hand, those who exercise regularly are at a lower risk.
Treatment Options for Enlarged Prostates
Clearly, there are lots of factors that can contribute to prostate enlargement. Regardless of how you go there, though, there are also lots of ways that you can manage your condition.
The following are some of the most well-known and effective treatment options for handling BPH:
For those whose symptoms are fairly mild, lifestyle changes can have a big impact. Here are some of the most effective changes you might want to implement:
- Avoid certain beverages that are carbonated or contain alcohol, caffeine, and/or artificial sweeteners, as they can irritate the bladder and exacerbate urinary issues
- Drink less in the evening to minimize the need to get up and urinate during the night
- Always empty your bladder before you leave the house, especially for extended periods of time
- Try double voiding, which involves trying to urinate again a few minutes after your first urination, to empty the bladder fully
- Talk to your doctor about medications like decongestants or anti-depressants that might make your symptoms worse
- Increase your fruit and fiber intake to combat constipation and decrease the amount of pressure placed on the bladder
- Maintain a healthy weight by exercising regularly and monitoring your calorie intake
Wear absorbent pads or urinary sheaths to soak up potential urine leaks
You can also talk to your doctor about practices like bladder retraining and urethral massage (also known as urethral milking). Bladder retraining can help you get better at holding urine in for longer periods of time. Urethral massage, on the other hand, can help you eliminate urine from your urethra to prevent dribbling or leaks from happening.
In addition to making some changes to your lifestyle, you might also want to look into adding some supplements to your regimen.
Certain supplements have been shown to make a big difference, such as GetProstate911 when it comes to combating prostate enlargement. The following are some of the most effective options:
- L-alanine: This is an amino acid that helps to prevent prostate enlargement; research shows that those who have enlarged prostates often have low levels of L-alanine
- Vitamin E: Antioxidant levels, including levels of vitamin E, are often decreased in those who are dealing with BPH; adding them into your routine can reduce inflammation and improve urinary system functioning
- Lycopene: Lycopene is a carotenoid found in foods like tomatoes; it’s been shown to inhibit the progression of BPH
- Saw Palmetto: This is an herb that may provide significant improvements in peak urine flow rate; it may also reduce your likelihood of experiencing nocturia
- Beta-Sitosterol: Beta-Sitosterol is a plant compound that is comparable to prescription BPH medications; it can help to improve symptoms like increased urinary flow while also decreasing residual urine
- Zinc: Zinc has been shown to reduce the size of the prostate and also reduce prostate enlargement symptoms
- Copper: Copper may prevent BPH and prostatitis
- Selenium: Selenium can help to slow down the progression of BPH and can also reduce one’s risk of developing prostate cancer
- Pygeum Africanum: This is an African plum tree that’s bark is known to have anti-inflammatory effects; these effects can help to improve urinary flow rate and reduce nocturia
- Pumpkin Seeds: Pumpkin seeds contain high levels of beta-sitosterol, which can help to improve urinary flow
You can use these supplements separately to experience improvements in prostate enlargement symptoms. You can also take a combination supplement that covers all your bases if the idea of taking 10 different supplements doesn’t appeal to you.
There are certain medications you can take that can relieve symptoms of prostate enlargement. If lifestyle changes and supplementation do not take care of your symptoms, moving on to prescription medications is the next step for a lot of men.
The following medications have been shown to be the most beneficial when it comes to controlling urinary symptoms:
- Alpha-blockers: These medications can relax prostate muscles, which helps to improve the overall functioning of the urinary system
- Phosphodiesterase-5 (or PDE5) inhibitors: These drugs are most commonly used for erectile dysfunction, but they can also relax urinary tract muscles to relieve prostate enlargement symptoms
- 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors: These drugs may help to limit the growth of the prostate gland and help those with prostate enlargement keep their symptoms under control
It’s common for doctors to prescribe a combination of medications. They may recommend that you use multiple drugs to improve your symptoms and see better results.
Before starting to use a new prescription, it’s important to take to your doctor about any other medications or supplements you might be taking. Failure to do so can lead to worsened symptoms or potential complications.
For those who have more severe symptoms, temporary or permanent catheters may be a more effective solution. A catheter is a tube that’s inserted into the bladder and attached to a drainage bag. It collects and removes urine from the body for you.
Surgical procedures may also be beneficial in severe cases. Surgery can help to reduce prostate size and improve urinary flow.
The following are some of the most common procedures you may want to consider:
- TURP (short for Transurethral Resection of the Prostate)
- TUIP (short for Transurethral Incision of the Prostate)
- Laser surgery
- Open prostatectomy
Surgery should be considered a last resort, as there is a greater risk of complications than with other treatment options. If all else fails, though, you may want to talk to your doctor about one of these procedures.
Now that you know more about the causes of enlarged prostates and the treatment options available, are you ready to take action? If so, talk to your doctor about giving one (or more) of the treatments listed above a try today.