Enlarged Prostate or BPH

A sink with leaky or stopped-up pipes can be fixed with a wrench and a little elbow grease, but if your body is experiencing some plumbing problems of its own, you might not be able to fix it by yourself. As men age, some people begin running to the bathroom more often or experiencing other demanding and inconvenient bathroom habits. A common cause for “leaky or stopped-up pipes” is BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia), which is an enlarged prostate. The good news is that this is an issue that can be detected and treated by your doctor. 

To understand BPH, it is important to know that the prostate is part of a man’s reproductive system. The prostate is normally about the size of a walnut. It completely surrounds the urethra, which is the tube that carries semen and urine out through the penis.    

What does the prostate do? Its primary job is to produce fluid for semen. During ejaculation, sperm from the testicles and fluid from the prostate simultaneously move through the urethra.  

BPH is simply a term used to describe an enlarged prostate. As a man ages, the prostate goes through two main growth periods. The first occurs early in puberty, and the second starts around age 25 and continues during most of a man’s life. As you age, an enlarging prostate may be inevitable. However, as your prostate gets bigger it can start pushing on neighboring body parts, which can then make you experience some uncomfortable urinary issues.  

How common is BPH? About half of men between the ages of 51 and 60 have an enlarged prostate, and that rises to up to 90 percent of men over the age of 80. And even though an enlarged prostate can happen at the same time as some cancers, it does not cause nor lead to cancer. 

Symptoms of an Enlarged Prostate

Because of its placement in relation to the urethra, a growing prostate could lead to some problems. When the prostate is enlarged, it can irritate or block your bladder. One of the most common symptoms is needing to pee frequently, especially during the night. Some other symptoms can include: 

  • Feeling like you didn’t completely empty your bladder, even if you just went to the bathroom 
  • Trouble starting to pee, or having a weak “stop-start” flow 
  • Having that “can’t wait” feeling when you need to pee 
  • Needing to push or strain to pee  

In extreme cases, you might not be able to urinate at all. This is an emergency and needs to be treated right away.  

How to Detect an Enlarged Prostate

Each man can have a different experience with BPH, from having extreme symptoms to not having any at all. What’s most important is to always address urinary concerns and problems with your doctor, even if you don’t think it’s that bad or bothersome. Untreated urinary problems could lead to more serious issues, like kidney complications.   

There are a few ways to find out for sure if you have an enlarged prostate. The diagnosis process usually begins with your doctor asking you about your personal and family medical history and then moves on to a physical exam.  

From there, your doctor may want to conduct some basic tests:  

  • Blood tests to check for kidney problems
  • Urine test to check for infection
  • A prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test, which measures the amount of a specific protein in the blood made only by the prostate. A high PSA level could mean that something is wrong.  
Depending on the results of those tests, your doctor will want to rule out other problems and narrow down what’s going on. Some advanced tests may be required.

Treatment for Enlarged Prostate

Lifestyle Changes 

How your doctor chooses to handle your case can depend on your test results, age, health, the size of your prostate and how bothersome your symptoms are. If you’re experiencing mild signs of an enlarged prostate, your doctor may recommend some lifestyle changes, including:   

  • Daily exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles 
  • Consuming a lower amount of fluids, especially before you go to bed
  • Drinking less caffeine and alcohol
  • Adopting a low-fat, prostate friendly diet (good foods for enlarged prostate include four or more servings of vegetables a day, foods rich in Vitamin C and those high in Zinc, such as oysters, baked beans, lean beef and duck)

Medicine 

For mild to moderate BPH, you may be prescribed medicine. Some common medicines that are prescribed will help the muscles in your prostate and bladder relax, while others will help decrease the size of your prostate. For some men, it might take more than one medication to get the best result.  

Prostate Surgery 

If lifestyle changes and medications just aren’t alleviating your symptoms, there are various types of prostate surgery to treat an enlarged prostate. And the good news is that most of these surgical options are minimally invasive. Choosing if and what surgery is right for you depends on the size of your prostate, how healthy you are and your overall personal preference.  

What Causes Enlarged Prostate?

The main risk factor associated with an enlarged prostate is aging. Signs and symptoms are rare in men under 40, but as you get into your fifties and sixties, your odds of experiencing an enlarged prostate greatly increase. Along with the inevitable risk factor of aging, there are some other components that may put you at a greater risk of BPH. These include: 

  • Family history. If you have a blood relative, like a father or brother, with prostate problems, you’re more likely to have prostate problems as well.  
  • Lifestyle. Obesity and smoking can increase your risk of BPH, while exercise can lower your risk. Though there is no sure way to prevent an enlarged prostate, watching your weight and eating a healthy diet, with lots of fruits and veggies, may help you lower your chances of BPH.   

Sauk Prairie Healthcare is Here to Help

Talking about “when nature calls” is not all that natural for most guys. But why deal with urinary issues when your doctor can easily detect the problem and treat it? While having an enlarged prostate may be unavoidable, living with the bothersome symptoms doesn’t need to be. And you should never procrastinate voicing your prostate or other plumbing concerns; there’s always a chance that the problem could worsen into something more serious. 

Sauk Prairie Healthcare is here to put you at ease, listen to your concerns and find a solution you will be comfortable with. Our full-time Urologist, Dr. Nathan Grunewald, is extremely knowledgeable and trained in the latest, most effective treatment methods. Call today to discuss your symptoms and set up an exam.