An enlarged prostate is a common condition, especially among men older than 50. Also called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), an enlarged prostate is not the same as prostate cancer. Although it is not cancerous, it can cause extremely unpleasant symptoms. Fortunately, there are treatments that can help reduce symptoms.
What Is the Prostate?
The prostate is a gland located just under the bladder in men. It produces seminal fluid, which helps to transport sperm. The prostate begins to enlarge at about age 25 and continues to slowly get larger for the rest of a man’s life. For many men in mid-life and later, this squeezes the tube that transports urine out of the body and can begin to block the flow of urine, causing a host of symptoms. Exactly why the prostate enlarges over time is unknown.
Signs & Symptoms of an Enlarged Prostate
How do you tell if you have an enlarged prostate? Signs and symptoms of BPH become more prevalent as you age. Symptoms rarely occur in men under the age of 40 but are common in about half of all men once they enter their 50s. The vast majority of men – about 90% – experience BPH symptoms by the age of 80.
The severity of symptoms will vary among individuals, but may include:
- Difficulty initiating urination, and “stop-start” urinating
- Frequent urge to urinate, but difficulty completely emptying the bladder
- Dribbling after urination
- Waking up with the need to urinate
- Blood in the urine
- Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
Without treatment, the signs and symptoms of an enlarged prostate tend to worsen with time.
Common Treatments for an Enlarged Prostate
Which BPH treatment is right for you will depend on the severity of your symptoms – and how much those symptoms impact your quality of life. Among the most common treatments for an enlarged prostate are medications, minimally invasive procedures, and surgery.
A wide array of medications are available to treat an enlarged prostate gland. Ask your urologist what type of prescription medication might be right for you.
Some of these medications (alpha-blockers) ease BPH symptoms by relaxing muscles of the prostate and bladder to help improve urine flow. Another class of drug that appears to work the same way is one you might be familiar with – it’s commonly used to treat erectile dysfunction (Cialis) and has been FDA-approved to treat signs and symptoms of an enlarged prostate since 2011.
Other types of medications (5-alpha reductase inhibitors) block hormones associated with prostate growth. Sometimes, a combination of drug types can be especially helpful.
Minimally Invasive Procedures
Thanks to advanced technology and techniques, minimally invasive options are often preferred by patients because of their advantages over traditional surgical methods: little to no scarring and a much faster and better post-op experience.
Two of the most common minimally invasive procedures used to treat BPH are:
- Laser prostatectomy. This highly effective procedure removes most or part of the prostate, so it no longer pinches the urethra, allowing urine to flow more easily. The laser accesses the prostate via the urethra, so no incision is necessary.
- Prostatic urethral lift. In the UroLift® version of this procedure, tiny implants are placed in an area of the prostate to lift and hold tissue out of the way of the urethra. No incisions are necessary with a urethral lift, and no sexual-performance side effects are associated with this procedure.
In cases where more conservative measures fail to relieve a patient’s BPH symptoms, surgery may be recommended. Transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) is one of the most common. It is the gold standard treatment used to treat urethra blockage due to an enlarged prostate. In this surgery, a thin, specially designed instrument is directed to the prostate via the urethra, where it removes excess prostate tissue with a wire loop. No incisions are needed with this surgery.
Enlarged Prostate Treatment in Phoenix, AZ
Dr. Desi Avila at Ironwood Urology in Phoenix, Arizona, routinely and expertly diagnoses and treats men with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), also known as an enlarged prostate. He can help get you the BPH symptom relief you’re looking for. Call Ironwood Urology at (480) 961-2323 to find out more – or simply request an appointment now.