In the male reproductive system, the prostate is a tiny, muscular gland. The prostate surrounds the urethra and produces the majority of the fluid in your sperm.
During sexual climax, the prostate’s muscular movement helps drive fluid and sperm through your penis.
The prostate gland can become enlarge in some men. It can cause symptoms as well as additional consequences over time. This is known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
BPH is a frequent condition among men over the age of 50. It’s not a cancer, and it normally doesn’t pose a major health risk.
Many men are concerned that having an enlarged prostate increases their chances of developing prostate cancer. This isn’t the case at all.
Men with an enlarged prostate have the same risk of prostate cancer as men who do not have an enlarged prostate.
What is Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia?
An enlarged prostate is known as BPH. Throughout a man’s life, the prostate passes through two distinct growth cycles.
The first happens when the prostate doubles in size throughout adolescence. The second phase of development begins at the age of 25 and lasts for the rest of a man’s life. During this second growth phase, BPH is most common.
The prostate presses against the urethra as it grows larger. This will lead to the thickening of the urinary bladder wall. The bladder’s ability to empty completely may deteriorate over time, leaving some pee in the bladder.
Many of the symptoms of BPH are caused by a narrowing of the urethra and urine retention (inability to completely empty the bladder).
BPH is a non-cancerous condition. It does not cause or contribute to the development of cancer. BPH and cancer, on the other hand, can occur at the same time.
BPH is a common condition. BPH affects around half of all men between the ages of 51 and 60. It affects up to 90% of men over the age of 80.
How Do You Know If You Have BPH?
The bladder might be bothered or blocked by an enlarged prostate. A common symptom of BPH is the need to urinate frequently. This could happen every one to two hours, especially at night.
BPH symptoms are frequently minimal at first, but if left untreated, they can become very problematic.
Other common symptoms of BPH are as follows:
- Even after peeing, you may have the sensation that your bladder is still full.
- Feeling as if you “can’t wait” to urinate.
- Weak or poor urine flow.
- Interrupted urinary stream whereby you need to stop and start urinating several times.
- Difficulty to start urinating.
- Feeling the need to strain while urinating.
BPH worsens with age in most men. It can cause bladder injury as well as infection. It can result in blood in the urine and damage to the kidneys.
What Causes BPH?
BPH is a condition whose causes are unknown. BPH may be caused, according to some experts, by factors connected to ageing and the testicles. This is because men who had their testicles removed before puberty do not develop BPH.
Men produce testosterone, a male hormone, and estrogen, a female hormone, in modest amounts throughout their lives. The amount of active testosterone in men’s blood decreases as they become older, leaving them with a higher proportion of estrogen in their blood.
According to studies, BPH develops when the prostate contains a higher proportion of estrogen, which increases the activity of chemicals that drive prostate cells to proliferate.
Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a male hormone involved in prostate formation and growth, is another hypothesis. According to several studies, even as testosterone levels in the blood begin to decline, excessive amounts of DHT continue to build up in the prostate. This may encourage prostate cells to develop even more. Men who do not make DHT do not develop BPH, according to scientists.
Although there is no proven way to prevent BPH, losing weight and eating a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help.
This could be linked to having too much body fat, as it raises hormone levels and other substances in the bloodstream, stimulating prostate cell growth. Staying active also aids in weight control and hormone balance.
How Does The Doctor Diagnose BPH?
If you’re experiencing symptoms that could suggest BPH, see your doctor. If you noticed severe symptoms such as blood in your urine, discomfort or burning when you urinate, or if you can’t urinate, it is recommended for you to consult your doctor immediately as this might suggest complications of BPH.
When your doctor examines you for BPH, they will normally start with a physical exam and questions about your medical history. A rectal examination is included in the physical exam, which helps the doctor to assess the size and shape of your prostate.
Other tests include:
- Urinalysis: a urine sample is checked for blood and bacteria.
- Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test: this is a blood test to rule out prostatic cancer as a cause for your enlarged prostate.
- Ultrasound of the prostate.
What is Prostate-specific Antigen (PSA)?
PSA (prostate-specific antigen) is a protein produced solely by the prostate. PSA levels in the blood are very low when the prostate is healthy.
The PSA blood test determines the amount of PSA in a person’s blood. There is no need for any prior preparation. Before the doctor does a rectal examination, the PSA test should be performed.
Before a PSA test, you should not ejaculate for at least two days. This is due to the fact that ejaculation can boost PSA levels for up to 48 hours.
Low level of PSA is an indicator of good prostate health. A sudden increase in PSA could indicate that something is wrong. A high PSA level can be caused by a variety of factors, including BPH. Prostatitis, or inflammation of the prostate, is another prevalent reason of a high PSA level.
How Do You Treat BPH?
The severity of your symptoms will determine how you are treated for an enlarged prostate. If your symptoms are moderate, you won’t require treatment right away, but you will need monthly prostate exams.
BPH usually only necessitates active monitoring.
Your BPH will be closely monitored but not actively treated if you and your doctor choose this treatment option. This implies that your urologist will check on you on a regular basis to see if you have BPH. It is normal to get a yearly exam.
Before proposing anything further, your doctor will look for worsening or new problems. Diet and exercise are frequently suggested as methods for preventing or managing symptoms.
For individuals with mild to moderate symptoms, active surveillance is the best option. It’s also a viable alternative for men who aren’t bothered by BPH symptoms. Your doctor may recommend that you start active therapy if your symptoms worsen or if new ones arise.
To treat moderate to severe symptoms of an enlarged prostate, medicine that reduces the size of the prostate and relaxes the bladder may be prescribed.
- Alpha blockers
This medication relaxes the muscles of the prostate and bladder which eventually will enhance urine flow, minimize urethral obstruction and alleviate your symptoms. They have no effect on the prostate’s size. Examples are alfuzosin, doxazosin and tamsulosin. Patients can feel the benefit of this drug right away however they can cause side effects like dizziness, fatigue and trouble in ejaculating.
- 5-alpha reductase inhibitors
This drug works by inhibiting the production of DHT whereby this hormone causes prostate growth. By inhibiting this hormone production, this medication can actually help to shrink the size of the prostate leading to increase urinary flow and reduce the risk of developing complications due to BPH. However, this medication may take up to months before becoming fully effective. Examples include finasteride and dutasteride. You must keep on taking this medication in order to prevent the symptoms from coming back and side effects include erectile dysfunction and reduce in libido.
Surgery is also an option of BPH treatment but they are usually recommended for those with moderate to severe symptoms that have not responded to medicine.
What Happens If I Don’t Treat My BPH?
It’s easy to dismiss BPH symptoms. Early treatment, on the other hand, can save you from potentially devastating complications. People with BPH for a long time may develop the following issues:
- Urinary tract infections
- Urinary stones
- Kidney damage
Urinary blockage caused by BPH can sometimes be so severe that no urine can leave the bladder at all. It’s dangerous because urine trapped in the bladder can lead to urinary tract infections and kidney damage. Acute urinary retention may also occur where you have the sudden inability to pass urine.
To avoid any of the complications above, please remember to consult your doctor immediately if you start suspecting symptoms of BPH on yourself.