As men age, the risk of developing an enlarged prostate increases significantly. It is estimated that, by the age of 60, nearly half of all men will experience an enlarged prostate, otherwise known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). An estimated 90 percent of men will have it by the age of 80.
When the prostate becomes enlarged, it can block the flow of urine from the bladder, leading to frequent urges to urinate along with difficulty urinating.
Although this condition can be frustrating and disruptive, an enlarged prostate is not cancerous or immediately threatening to your health. However, the worse the condition gets, the more pressure the prostate puts on your urethra, blocking semen and urine from exiting your body.
If you are diagnosed with BPH, your doctor might advise you to try at least one of the following remedies.
Alpha blockers and 5-alpha reductase (5-AR) inhibitors are two different medications used to treat an enlarged prostate.
Alpha blockers do this by relaxing the muscles around your bladder and prostate, making it easier for urine to flow. These work fairly quickly and symptoms may improve within a few days of starting the medication, although it can take up to six weeks to notice the full effect.
The 5-alpha reductase inhibitors, on the other hand, can take a few months to work. It treats your condition by lowering the levels of DHT (dihydrotestosterone), the hormone believed to cause an enlarged prostate, essentially shrinking your prostate in the process.
Antibiotics may be used to treat inflammation of the prostate (prostatitis) which sometimes occurs with BPH. Over-the-counter supplements, such as saw palmetto, may help relieve BPH symptoms.
If your blockage is mild to moderate, your doctor might prescribe a type of heat therapy that can help alleviate symptoms such as weak urine flow and frequent urination.
Transurethral microwave thermotherapy (TUMT) is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure performed under anesthesia that involves inserting an instrument into the urethra and up into the prostate. The device transmits microwave energy that heats and kills some of the tissue lining the inside of the prostate, shrinking the organ and allow urine to pass more easily.
It is considered to be more effective than medication.
If medication or surgery are not viable options due to other medical conditions, your doctor may recommend inserting a prostatic stent to expand the urethra opening, allowing urine to flow more easily.
During this outpatient procedure and while under anesthesia, a tiny coil (the stent) is inserted into your urethra and positioned in the area narrowed by the enlarged prostate. Once the stent is in place, it expands like a spring to help keep the walls of the urethra open.
As a last resort, your doctor may recommend surgery to relieve the pressure on your urethra from an enlarged prostate.
There are several options available, which either shrink the size of the prostate – such as a transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP), laser surgery, or open prostatectomy – or widen the urethra, such as a transurethral incision of the prostate (TUIP).
While surgery is the most invasive treatment, it is generally believed to be the most successful at relieving symptoms of BPH.
For more information about your options in dealing with an enlarged prostate call Urology Specialists of Milford at (508) 473-6333. You can also request an appointment with Dr. Jeffrey Steinberg using our convenient online form.