As men age, they may experience a condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia, in which the prostate gland becomes enlarged.
The prostate gland is a walnut-sized organ in the male body that is responsible for secreting fluid that protects and carries sperm during ejaculation. This gland is a part of the male urinary system and is located between the bladder and the penis.
An enlarged prostate can lead to a variety of urinary symptoms and discomfort.
Urology, the medical specialty that deals with the human urinary system, offers a number of treatments to reduce symptoms of enlarged prostate.
Generally, the prostate gland continues to grow throughout men’s lives. However, when it grows too large, it can begin to have effects on the urinary bladder. Most symptoms are merely uncomfortable or inconvenient. However, complications of an enlarged prostate can cause sudden urine retention, or inability to empty the bladder. The lessened ability to empty the bladder can lead to frequent bladder infections. Prostate enlargement can contribute to stones in the bladder. Damage to the bladder itself can develop because of the inability to empty it properly. Bladder infection or urine retention can lead to damage of the kidneys.
Causes of Enlarged Prostate
Researchers are unclear about the exact causes of prostate enlargement. Aging appears to be the primary risk factor for prostate enlargement. A family history of this problem also increases risk. Obesity increases the risk of prostate enlargement, and exercise lowers the risk. Some evidence indicates that diabetes and heart disease increase the risk for prostate enlargement.
Symptoms of Enlarged Prostate
Men with an enlarged prostate may experience the need to urinate frequently or may feel urgency to urinate. They may have difficulty starting a urine stream. The urine stream may start and stop or may seem weak. There may be dribbling when urination has ended. They may feel unable to completely empty the bladder. Many men find they get up more frequently to urinate during the night, which interrupts their sleep and can lead to daytime fatigue.
The size of the prostate, the patient’s age, and their general state of health may all play a part in deciding the appropriate treatment for an enlarged prostate. Alpha-blocker medications can help to reduce symptoms, although they do not alter the size of the prostate itself. Alpha reductase inhibitors reduce the amount of dihydrotestosterone, which helps to shrink the prostate gland. Transurethral microwave thermotherapy (TUMT) can decrease urinary urgency and frequency. Transurethral radio frequency needle ablation (TUNA) destroys prostate tissue to remove blockages and improve urine flow. A metal coil, called a stent, can also be inserted into the urethra to improve urine flow and reduce symptoms. In some cases, surgery is needed to reduce the size of prostate tissue. A number of different techniques are used for this process. Your urologist will determine the right one for your individual case.
Men who experience symptoms of an enlarged prostate are often reluctant to discuss their symptoms with a medical professional. However, it is a common problem that physicians can address with a number of treatment options. If you have one of more of these symptoms, talk to your doctor to learn about enlarged prostate problems and determine the best treatment for your needs.