The prostate is a small organ, about as big as a walnut, that can be found below the male bladder and surrounding the urethra. It produces ejaculatory fluid, the liquid that nourishes semen after it leaves the body. Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), also known as enlarged prostate, is one of many diseases that can affect this organ. Most men who develop BPH are middle-aged, and many do not develop severe symptoms.
Treatments are available to manage the symptoms of BPH, although the condition cannot be cured. A small number of men with BPH, about 10 percent, require medical intervention to treat their symptoms and prevent life-threatening complications. If you’re one of the many men who develop BPH and have only mild to moderate symptoms, you may choose to purchase medication from a Canada Pharmacy to treat your symptoms. If you have more severe symptoms of BPH, you may need surgical intervention.
Symptoms of BPH
BPH may set in while you’re still in your 30s, but symptoms probably won’t appear until you’re in your 40s or 50s. Because your prostate surrounds your urethra, its enlargement due to BPH can cause a narrowing or restriction of that passageway. For this reason, most BPH symptoms manifest as urinary issues.
There are two categories of symptoms associated with BPH: symptoms related to emptying the bladder, and symptoms linked to bladder storage. Symptoms linked to emptying the bladder can include:
Difficulty with getting started urinating
Weakened urine stream
Dribbling after urinating
A feeling that your bladder is not entirely empty, even after urinating
Wanting to urinate again soon after urinating
Pain with urination
Symptoms linked to bladder storage can include:
Waking up at night to urinate
Urinating more often than usual
Feeling sudden, overwhelming urinary urges
These symptoms may not necessary indicate BPH, especially if they begin to occur suddenly, or if you have symptoms mostly or entirely in one of the two categories. Prostate cancer, diabetes, heart failure, prostatitis and urinary tract infections can all cause symptoms similar to those of BPH. Some things can make BPH symptoms worse, including cold weather, stress and over-the-counter cold remedies.
Some men who have mild to moderate symptoms of BPH choose not to have treatment at all. You can wait until your symptoms get severe enough before you decide on a treatment method. Your doctor will recommend regular checkups to monitor your progress.
If you decide your symptoms are problematic, you can take medication to control them. Medications like Flomax are available to treat BPH. Flomax works by relaxing the smooth muscle tissue in the prostate and the neck of the bladder, which can make it easier to urinate. If your symptoms are severe enough, however, your doctor may recommend surgery or a catheter, or both.
Severe symptoms of BPH can include the inability to pass urine at all, which can cause kidney damage if not immediately treated. This constitutes a medical emergency and a reason to have surgery. Additional reasons to get surgery include persistent blood urine, bladder stones or recurrent urinary tract infections, all of which can occur due to backed-up urine in the bladder.
There are various procedures used to treat severe BPH. Some can be performed on an outpatient basis in your doctor’s office. These include microwave therapy, which uses energy waves to shrink the prostate by killing some of its cells. Laser therapies are also available, some of which can be performed on an outpatient basis with minimal anesthesia. These procedures work by removing some of the enlarged prostate’s tissue.
Transurethral resection of the prostate, or TURP, is a more invasive surgical procedure, but it’s the oldest procedure used to treat BPH. You’ll be anesthetized and the doctor will insert an instrument into your urethra to cut away part of the prostate and allow urine to flow more freely from your bladder.
If you decide you need surgery for your BPH, you should discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor. Surgery can bring relief from severe symptoms of BPH, but like any surgery, it is not without its risks.
If you have BPH, and your symptoms are mild to moderate, you may choose to take medication to cope with them. Many men who are bothered by their BPH symptoms find medications helpful. But you and your doctor should keep an eye on your symptoms; severe BPH symptoms can require emergency intervention.
BPH is one of many disorders that can affect the prostate and make urination difficult. It is not a form of prostate cancer, nor does it lead to prostate cancer. There’s no need to let your BPH symptoms keep you from living a normal life. But if you have urinary symptoms, you should see your doctor immediately to rule out the possibility of cancer or other serious conditions, and to discuss treatment options.
BPH diagram image by National Cancer Institute from Wikimedia CommonsFlomax image by National Library of Medicine from Wikimedia Commons