This common problem, also known as an enlarged prostate, can be treated.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is a health issue that becomes more common with age. It's also called an enlarged prostate. The prostate is a small gland that helps make semen. It's found just below the bladder. And it often gets bigger as you get older.
An enlarged prostate can cause symptoms that may bother you, such as blocking the flow of urine out of the bladder. It also can cause bladder, urinary tract or kidney problems.
Many treatments can help BPH. These include medicines, surgery and other procedures. Your health care provider can help you choose. The right option depends on things such as:
Common symptoms of BPH include:
Less common symptoms include:
The symptoms of BPH tend to slowly get worse. But sometimes they stay the same or even improve over time.
The size of the prostate doesn't always determine how serious the symptoms are. Some people with slightly enlarged prostates can have major symptoms. Others who have very enlarged prostates can have minor problems. And some people with enlarged prostates don't have any symptoms at all.
Some other health problems can lead to symptoms that are like those caused by enlarged prostate. These include:
Some medicines also may lead to symptoms that seem like those caused by BPH. These include:
Talk to your health care provider about your symptoms, even if they don't bother you. It's important to find out if there are any causes that could be treated. Without treatment, the risk of a dangerous blockage of the urinary tract can rise.
If you can't pass any urine, get medical help right away.
The prostate gland is located beneath the bladder. The tube that moves urine from the bladder out of the penis is called the urethra. This tube passes through the center of the prostate. When the prostate gets bigger, it starts to block urine flow.
The prostate is a gland that typically keeps growing throughout life. This growth often enlarges the prostate enough to cause symptoms or to block urine flow.
It isn't clear what causes the prostate to get bigger. It might be due to changes in the balance of sex hormones as you grow older.
Usually, the prostate gland is about the size and shape of a walnut or golf ball. When enlarged, the prostate may block the flow of urine from the bladder to the outside of the body.
Risk factors for an enlarged prostate include:
Complications of an enlarged prostate can include:
Treatment for BPH lowers the risk of these complications. But urinary retention and kidney damage can be serious health threats.
Having an enlarged prostate is not thought to raise the risk of getting prostate cancer.
Your health care provider likely will start by asking questions about your symptoms. You'll also get a physical exam. This exam is likely to include:
After that, you might need other tests that can help confirm an enlarged prostate. These tests include:
If your health problem is more complex, you may need tests including:
Many treatments are available for enlarged prostate. These include medicines, surgery and procedures that involve smaller, fewer or no cuts. The best treatment choice for you depends on:
If your symptoms don't get in the way of your life, you might decide to put off treatment. Instead, you could wait to see if your symptoms change or get worse. For some people, symptoms of BPH can ease without treatment.
Taking medicine is the most common treatment for mild to moderate symptoms of an enlarged prostate. Options include:
Surgery or other procedures might help with BPH symptoms if you:
Surgery or other procedures might not be an option if you have:
Any type of prostate procedure can cause side effects. Depending on the procedure you choose, health issues afterward might include:
There are many types of surgeries and other procedures that can treat an enlarged prostate.
A thin tool with a light, called a scope, is inserted into the urethra. The surgeon removes all but the outer part of the prostate. TURP often relieves symptoms quickly. Some people have a stronger urine flow soon after the procedure too. After TURP, you might need a catheter to drain your bladder for a little while.
A lighted scope is inserted into the urethra. The surgeon makes one or two small cuts in the prostate gland. This makes it easier for urine to pass through the urethra. TUIP might be an option if you have a small or slightly enlarged prostate gland. It also may be an option if you have health problems that make other surgeries too risky.
A special catheter is placed through the urethra into the prostate area. Microwave energy from the catheter destroys the inner portion of the enlarged prostate gland. This shrinks the prostate and eases urine flow. TUMT might relieve only some of your symptoms. It also might take some time before you notice results. In general, this surgery is used only on small prostates in special situations because the treatment might be needed again.
A high-energy laser destroys or removes overgrown prostate tissue. Laser therapy has a lower risk of side effects than does nonlaser surgery. It might be used in people who shouldn't have other prostate procedures because they take blood-thinning medicines.
Laser therapy options include:
Special tags are used to compress the sides of the prostate. This can improve the flow of urine. A prostate lift might be an option if the middle section of the prostate gland doesn't get in the way of urine flow. It's less likely to cause sexual side effects than are many other surgical treatments.
In this experimental procedure, the blood supply to or from the prostate is blocked in chosen areas. This causes the prostate to get smaller. Long-term data on how well this procedure works isn't available.
A device is placed in the urethra. It turns water into steam. This wears away extra prostate tissue. WVTT can ease symptoms of an enlarged prostate. It is less likely to cause sexual side effects compared with many other surgical treatments.
This procedure uses imaging tests and robotic tools to guide a device into the urethra. The device releases tiny, powerful jets of water to remove extra prostate tissue. This can ease symptoms of an enlarged prostate. Robotic waterjet treatment can cause some of the same side effects that TURP can cause.
One or more cuts are made in the lower stomach area. This lets the surgeon reach the prostate and remove tissue. In general, this type of surgery is done if you have a large or very large prostate. A short hospital stay is often needed afterward. The surgery is linked with a higher risk of needing donated blood due to bleeding.
Your follow-up care will depend on the technique used to treat your enlarged prostate. Your health care provider should tell you what activities to stay away from and for how long.
You can do things at home to help control the symptoms of an enlarged prostate.
Try to make healthy diet and exercise changes:
Also try these bathroom habits:
Other things that might help include:
In the United States, no herbal supplements are approved to treat an enlarged prostate.
Guidelines from the American Urological Association say that many studies on supplements used for BPH have weaknesses, such as not being studied for enough time. Two stronger studies of people with BPH found that saw palmetto had no benefits over a harmless treatment that contained no medicine, called a placebo.
Other herbal supplements include beta-sitosterol extracts, pygeum and rye grass. These have been suggested by some as helpful for easing enlarged prostate symptoms. But the safety and long-term effectiveness of these supplements hasn't been proved.
If you take any herbal remedies, tell your health care provider. Certain herbal products might raise the risk of bleeding or affect other medicines that you take.
For an enlarged prostate, you might be referred to a doctor who specializes in urinary issues, called a urologist.
For BPH, some questions to ask your health care provider are:
Feel free to ask other questions during your appointment.
Your provider is likely to ask you some questions. Be ready to answer them. It might give you more time to talk about your concerns.
You'll probably be asked questions about your symptoms, such as:
You might also be asked questions about your health history and diet, such as: