Prostate problems affect thousands of men across Australia and beyond. Often, these are not due to cancer – yet it doesn’t stop them from causing a significant impact to the lives of those suffering.
If you’re already living with prostate issues, or have noticed a difference recently with your urine flow, it is likely due to an enlarged prostate or Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH). Left untreated, prostate issues like BHP can do more than impact your quality of life and lead to other health issues like kidney infections, bladder stones or erectile dysfunction.
Today we’re talking BPH in detail – the causes, symptoms, medical treatments available and when to take action.
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia – what is it?
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia – or BHP – is the medical term for an enlarged prostate gland and is a non-cancerous prostate problem. It is extremely common in men who are fifty and above, although it can affect younger men too.
The prostate gland is tiny – about the size of a walnut – and located in the male pelvis underneath the bladder. It surrounds the urethra, the tube responsible for carrying urine from the bladder through the penis and out of the body. As the gland enlarges, it pushes the urethra and impacts urinating.
While the condition itself is non-life threatening, it leaves many men suffering from it wondering if it is cancerous or will eventually lead to cancer – and this isn’t the case.
More than anything, BHP is an inconvenience, painful and causes discomfort. It is a condition urologists encourage patients to address, with several remedies available to help them depending on the severity.
What Are The Causes Of Prostate Enlargement?
It is not altogether clear what causes prostate enlargement, yet there is a firm belief in medical circles that it comes down to hormones.
As we age, our bodily hormones change. In some men, these changes to the male hormone testosterone present themselves as an enlarged prostate gland – although it won’t be the case for all older men.
This leaves it difficult to predict or prevent BPH. However, most medical practitioners agree that by leading a healthy lifestyle, you give yourself the best chance of managing the condition should it happen to you: maintaining regular exercise, a balanced diet (including minimal alcohol and carbonated drinks) and plenty of sleep.
Symptoms of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia
If you are aged 50 or above and experiencing urinary problems – mainly, managing your urine flow – it is likely linked to BPH.
The most common symptoms of enlarged prostate or BPH are:
Medical professionals classify these symptoms into two categories to help determine treatment. Obstructive lower urinary tract symptoms result from a narrowing urethra and include a weak urine flow or pain when urinating. Irritative lower urinary tract symptoms occur when the bladder wall thickens and reduces in size, upping the frequency or urgency to urinate.
It’s important to note these symptoms can also occur in men with prostate cancer, making it crucial to see a GP or urologist if you are experiencing these kinds of issues when urinating.
Medication for Prostate Enlargement
Thanks to urological progress, there are now multiple medications for enlarged prostate depending on its severity.
All treatment of enlarged prostate is based on a formal diagnosis given by a medical professional after reviewing a patient’s medical history and a detailed examination. This will include a urine flow test and a digital rectum exam. A PSA blood test is usually included at the same time to check for cancerous cells.
The best treatment for enlarged prostate is determined by the patient’s symptoms, as follows:
Medications for enlarged prostate
For Mild Symptoms
If the enlargement is confirmed benign and symptoms are mild, treatments such as medicine or surgery are not typically required, although certain lifestyle changes will be encouraged – reducing caffeine and alcohol intake, limiting fluid intake up to 2L per day, staying active, and maintaining a healthy weight. An annual exam is also required for ongoing monitoring.
For Moderate To Severe Symptoms
Alpha-adrenergic blocking agents are used to improve urine flow, along with drugs that may reduce the size of the enlarged gland.
Surgery may be prescribed if severe urinary complications continue or result in further health issues like kidney and bladder damage. Bladder neck incision, TURP, Urolift and laser treatment suit different circumstances; a urologist will help determine the most appropriate one.
Are There Other Non-Cancerous Prostate Problems?
As we have seen, BPH frequently happens in older men yet there is another common non-cancerous prostate problem among younger men too: Prostatitis.
The term refers to an inflamed prostate, which can occur because of bacterial or non-bacterial issues. Bacterial prostatitis is due to leakage of infectious microbes into the gland from the urethra and rectum. Chronic Prostatitis, also referred to as Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome, is not caused by bacterial infection and usually has no known cause.
Prostatitis can occur for numerous reasons – a recent urinary tract infection, anal intercourse, usage of a urinary catheter, urinary tract abnormalities, and local trauma in the pelvic region among them.
After receiving a diagnosis, treatment is essential to avoid ongoing discomfort. You could be prescribed antibiotics if bacteria are present, anti-inflammatories to manage pain, or alpha-adrenergic blocking agents to relax the bladder and prostate muscles to improve bladder emptying and urine flow.
When To Take Prostate Problems Seriously?
Katelaris Urology constantly receives enquiries from men asking, “What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?”. It is clear there is still much confusion in the community between prostate cancer and BPH, starting with the symptoms.
As we have identified, prostate enlargement or BPH is non-cancerous but this doesn’t stop it from causing discomfort to thousands of men across Australia.
What’s more, with many symptoms similar to those experienced by men diagnosed with prostate cancer – and this type of cancer being the most prominent in Australia – you must never ignore the symptoms of BPH. We would much prefer people to ask us the key questions than not.
If you are feeling discomfort of any type in or close to the prostate area, or having difficulty when urinating – be it through pain, an infrequent or increased need to urinate – book an appointment with your GP or urologist immediately.
Katelaris Urology in Sydney helps patients overcome their prostate issues with effective diagnosis and treatments to improve their quality of life.
If you need advice about prostate problems, arrange a confidential chat with our team.