The exact cause of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is unknown, though there are a few known factors such as age, and the secretion of specific hormones such as DHT that can cause symptoms and prostate growth. BPH does not necessarily cause symptoms, but after the age of 40, men should visit their doctor to rule out any severe medical conditions such as prostate and bladder cancer.
Continue reading to learn why people suffer from BPH and the symptoms associated with this condition. This article also discusses various BPH treatment methods such as surgery or medications and supplements that can aid symptom relief such as Prostate 911, and how you can receive a comprehensive treatment program to relieve your symptoms.
There is no definitive reason for enlarged prostates, though the prevailing thought is that specific hormones can cause the change over time. DHT, in particular, is widely believed to cause BPH symptoms. Conversely, men with low DHT levels typically don’t experience enlarged prostates.
Estrogen can also cause prostate enlargement and as men age, less testosterone can be found in the bloodstream, creating a larger presence of estrogen. High levels of estrogen have been documented as a marker for this condition as well.
It is important to note that just because you have an enlarged prostate, doesn’t mean you will experience symptoms. Symptoms occur in relation to where the enlargement occurs. If it impinges on the function of the urethra, BPH will cause symptoms.
If you experience symptoms, you should seek clinical testing to determine the cause of the obstruction. The most common symptoms of BPH include weak or interrupted urinary streams, the sudden or frequent urge to urinate, inability to completely empty the bladder during urination, and trouble initiating urine flow even when the bladder feels full.
You should begin testing for enlarged prostate by the age of 40 and you will want to keep an open dialogue with your physician to monitor your prostate health as you age since complications typically begin after 40 years.
Because symptoms of bladder cancer, overactive bladder, and urinary retention closely resemble those of BPH, you should have your primary physician make a referral to a urologist if you fall into the following categories:
- Young patients with symptoms
- Abnormal rectal exams, PSA, or urinalysis
- History of extensive urethral instrumentation or stricture
- Poor response to medical therapy
Diagnosing an enlarged prostate
Thorough diagnosis must be developed before determining the best comprehensive treatment plan. Dozens of exams exist to achieve this diagnosis. The following are the most common:
- Digital rectal exam. The natural position of the prostate gland means that patients might feel an enlargement through the wall of the rectum. Your physician will insert a gloved finger to assess the size of your prostate gland.
- Urinalysis. With urine samples, laboratories can test for infections or other problems. Urinalysis is a simple way to rule out bladder infections and bladder cancer, which can cause various symptoms.
- Prostate-specific antigen test (PSA). The PSA is similar to a urinalysis and it monitors the level of prostatic-specific antigens in patients’ blood. With a routine blood draw, the test can check for prostate cancer and an enlarged prostate. Additionally, a man’s PSA may be an indicator of whether or not he is at risk for continued prostate enlargement.
- Urodynamic tests. Urodynamics describe a group of diagnostic tests done to evaluate the performance of the lower urinary tract. Measuring bladder pressure and urinary flow can identify and diagnose issues such as poor bladder emptying and intermittent urination. Low flow and high pressure typically indicate obstruction in the urinary outlet.
- Cystoscopy. During a cystoscopy, the doctor will insert a small fiber optic camera in the urethra and bladder to evaluate the anatomy of the urethra, prostate, and bladder.
Treatment options for enlarged prostate
Non-invasive treatment options
- Transurethral microwave therapy. Controlled dose of microwave energy delivered to the prostate, destroying excess prostate tissue that causes blockage.
- Laser therapy. Laser therapy can remove some of the prostate tissue to reduce overall size.
- Laser vapourisation. Uses higher energy lasers to vaporize enlarged prostate obstructions and open the urethra.
Surgical treatment options
- Transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP). In this surgery, the inner portion of the prostate is removed. This type of surgery is the most common type of surgery for an enlarged prostate.
- Open prostatectomy. This open surgery involves a surgeon making an incision and removing the enlarged tissue from the prostate.
- Laser surgery. Laser surgery uses laser energy to destroy excess prostate tissue and shrink the gland to a manageable size.
- Transurethral incision of the prostate. This surgery does not involve removing prostate tissue. The procedure includes a few small incisions in the prostate.
Medications for enlarged prostates
Two main pharmaceuticals exist for an enlarged prostate: alpha blockers and alpha reductase inhibitors. Alpha blockers relax the smooth muscle around the bladder neck and within the urethra. Inhibitors stop the conversion of the male hormone DHT to reduce the size of the prostate, eliminating blockage. Your physician may prescribe a combination of these medications to formulate a two-pronged approach to BPH therapy. Prescriptions can produce side-effects, which is something to consider when weighing your treatment options.
There are also a number of supplements on the market that potentially treat symptoms of BPH. Though these supplements can not reduce the size of the prostate, they have shown efficacy in reducing discomfort and helping nocturia.
Enlarged prostates don’t necessarily cause symptoms but because the symptoms involved closely resemble those of prostate cancer and other severe medical conditions it is wise to consult your doctor when choosing the best course for treatment. There are non-invasive, surgical, and medication treatments to ensure you experience relief and don’t suffer from prolonged symptoms.
Adam Mulligan did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He is interested in mental health and well-being.
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