For men, aging presents a unique set of health issues – including an enlarged prostate. By age 60, nearly 50 percent of all men will have an enlarged prostate; by age 85, that likelihood increases to 90 percent. This condition is called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
You may be wondering: What do these changes in prostate size mean for a man?
Depending upon the location of the prostate and whether it presses upon any nearby organs determines whether it will cause problems. Simply having an enlarged prostate does not necessarily mean any effects will be noticed.
Causes for the Enlargement of the Prostate
Many speculative theories exist that try to explain why the prostate continues to grow, although there is no consensus among the medical community for this second growth spurt. The prostate starts out about the size of a walnut, but for some reason the prostate begins to grow again around age 40. It can grow to the size of a lemon.
Most doctors agree that the growth has to do with certain hormones like dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and estrogen. Men with low levels of DHT typically do not suffer any enlargement of the prostate, or BPH.
Problems Caused by BPH
What matters most is the location of the growing prostate and its position relative to the urethra. The prostate can move based on the surrounding organs, such as when the bladder fills up with urine. Therefore, the biggest cause of ill effects related to an enlarged prostate is where it is causing pressure.
Side effects that may be caused by an enlarged prostate are:
- Weak or interrupted urine stream
- Sudden urgency to urinate, especially during the night
- Frequent trips to urinate
- Inability to completely empty the bladder
- Trouble initiating urine flow even with a full bladder
Diagnosing an Enlarged Prostate
The traditional method of diagnosing an enlarged prostate is the digital rectal exam (DRE). This examination involves the insertion of a finger by the doctor into the rectum to check the size of the prostate and to feel for any abnormalities. In this way, the physician is checking for any changes in size, texture, or shape of the prostate.
The prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test is done for all men as they get older to check for possible evidence of prostate cancer; the PSA test can reveal the levels of a certain protein. These levels can vary widely from person to person, so the test may be done twice to verify the findings. If the prostate is enlarged and the PSA level is high, a biopsy may be required to test for any suspicious results.
As long as it is non-cancerous and does not press on the bladder or urethra, there is probably no need to pursue treatment. However, it should be watched by a physician, and follow-up testing may be necessary.
Experienced Urologist in Arizona
If caught at an early stage, the five-year survival rate for prostate cancer is nearly 100 percent. Prevention is crucial in prostate cancer, and screenings should start at age 50 for men at average risk – or age 40 for men with higher risk factors.
Ironwood Urology specializes in men’s health. Call us today at (480) 961-2323 or request an appointment online. We look forward to helping you stay healthy and feel great about yourself!