Enlargement of Prostate


Basics

Enlargement of prostate gland after age 40 is common in men. This prostate enlargement is called benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH. This is NOT the same thing as prostate cancer. The prostate gland simply enlarges.

The prostate gland stores and secretes a clear fluid that makes up part of the seminal fluid that constitutes semen. It also contains some smooth muscle tissue that helps to expel semen during ejaculation. A healthy prostate gland is about the size of a walnut, triangular in shape, and feels firm and rubbery to the touch. The gland surrounds the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder out through the tip of the penis.



With enlargement of prostate, the gland presses on the urethra, causing it to become more narrow. This may cause difficulty with urination. Symptoms include difficulty starting urination, a weak urine stream, a sense of not emptying the bladder, frequent need to urinate, and frequent urinary tract and bladder infections.

Prevention

Unfortunately, it is difficult to prevent prostate enlargement; it is often a natural part of the aging process. However, there are ways to prevent enlargement of prostate from causing serious health problems.

Drink at least eight glasses of water each day. This will help prevent bacteria from accumulating in the bladder and prevent bladder infections. Drinking cranberry juice daily will increase the acidity of the urine, which can also help prevent urinary tract infections.

Regular prostate exams are recommended so that problems can be caught early. This way treatment can begin as soon as indicated and can prevent problems from getting worse. Enlargement of prostate is often due to BPH but can be caused by more serious problems such as prostate cancer, so regular screenings are important. Prostate screenings include blood tests as well as a digital prostate exam.

During a prostate exam, the man is usually asked to stand facing the examination table and to bend over so that he is leaning down over the table. The doctor will wear surgical gloves and use lubrication on his or her finger. This is called a digital exam. The doctor will then insert their finger in the rectum to feel the prostate gland. The gland is felt through the walls of the rectum; the gland cannot be felt directly.

Treatment

If prostate enlargement is detected, medical treatment may not be prescribed if the condition is not severe enough to cause many symptoms. Doctors may recommend a wait-and-see approach, with regularly scheduled exams to monitor the condition.

If the enlargement of prostate is causing significant difficulty with urination, doctors will generally prescribe medication to shrink the gland. Finasteride is a commonly prescribed medication. It is an extremely potent drug. Pregnant women must not handle it, because it can be absorbed through the skin and cause birth defects. Side effects in men include depression and sexual side effects.

If medication does not do the job, surgery is usually recommended to treat enlargement of prostate. There are several types of prostate enlargement surgery. The most common surgery is called transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP). In this operation, the surgeon goes in through the urethra and scrapes away part of the prostrate gland, which then relieves the pressure on the urethra. No external incision is needed, so there is less risk of infection. It is, however, still a surgical procedure requiring anesthesia. There is pain during the recovery process. There may be temporary urinary incontinence during the recovery period. Sexual dysfunction occurs in up to 30% of all men having the surgery and can last for up to one year afterward.

Most men prefer to avoid medication and surgery if at all possible. Many prefer to try natural treatments for an enlarged prostate gland instead. These treatments use natural ingredients to shrink the prostate gland and promote urinary health. Because they are all natural, they usually do not have side effects. They may have other health benefits as well.

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When To See Your Doctor

See your doctor for a yearly prostate exam. This can help detect prostate cancer. If you experience symptoms of a bladder infection, which include fever and painful urination, see your doctor for treatment. If you have blood in your urine, see your doctor. This could be a symptom of prostate enlargement or it could also be a sign of a more serious medical problem. Either way, medical treatment is needed.

If you have any additional questions about BPH, please contact us.



Additional Reading: Be sure to read our additional sections on enlarged prostrate problems. We have several pages that discuss BPH medications including: flomax prostate bph medication, and bph and finasteride medication. See if flomax better prostate medication for you, and learn about the proscar side effects.


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