Prostate enlargement is a fact of life for almost every man as he ages.
In fact, by age 60, more than half of men will have an enlarged prostate, known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), and that figure climbs to 90 percent by age 85.
Often there’s no cause for concern, but for some men, BPH can affect their quality of life by causing frequent trips to the bathroom at night, coupled with difficulty when starting to urinate. Leaking or dribbling urine may also occur. Over time, these problems can become a 24-hour annoyance.
BPH causes urinary problems by putting pressure on the urethra, which is the tube that empties the bladder. A narrow urethra can make it hard to empty the bladder completely or may cause bladder muscles to contract even when it is not full.
Men experiencing urinary symptoms should see their doctor to rule out serious problems. Initial exams may include testing the urine flow rate and performing checks for infection. Depending on those outcomes, your physician may advise you to “watch and wait” to see if the symptoms improve on their own, and might also recommend some lifestyle changes.
Lifestyle changes typically include:
- cutting back on alcohol and caffeine, especially during the evening
- not taking cold and sinus medicines with decongestants or antihistamines
- and performing pelvic strengthening exercises
- Studies also show that maintaining a healthy weight and staying physically active may reduce prostate problems.
Medications that can help with an enlarged prostate include Alpha 1-blockers, which act on the muscles of the bladder and prostate, as well as others that reduce the prostate’s hormone production and size. Antibiotics may also curb inflammation.
In some cases, surgery may be recommended to remove all or part of the prostate. In many cases, outpatient laser surgery can successfully remove the tissue blocking urine flow. Laser methods are becoming popular because they are quick and minimally invasive.
While an enlarged prostate may be unavoidable for most men, there are ways to control and treat the condition so that it doesn’t take over your life.