One of the most common conditions a man can get affecting his prostate is benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH. BPH is an enlargement of the prostate putting pressure on the urethra making it difficult to urinate along with other symptoms associated with it.
It becomes more prevalent as a man ages with the risk of BPH increasing each year after a man turns 40. By age 60, more than half of all men will have BPH and by age 85, about 90 percent of men have this condition.
How will a man know if he has BPH?
Most of the signs and symptoms of BPH are urinary related. The prostate gland, the size of a walnut, surrounds the urethra the tube in which urine is released through. As the prostate enlarges, this put pressure on the urethra reducing the flow of urine which can result in various symptoms such as:
· Urinary urgency
· Frequent urination
· Dripping and leaking after urination
· Straining to urinate
· Waking up during the night to urinate
· A weak or slow urinary stream
· Incomplete emptying of the bladder
· A urinary stream that starts and stops
Not every man who has BPH will necessarily know it as only about 30 percent of men with it will have noticeable symptoms.
Does having BPH put a man at a higher risk of developing prostate cancer?
Both BPH and the risk of prostate cancer do increase as a man ages with both conditions being common in men in their 70s, 80s, and older. But there is not enough evidence to show causation between BPH and prostate cancer. BPH and prostate cancer are not the same thing.
What causes BPH?
The causes of BPH is not known or understood. What is known is that it mainly occurs in older men. There appears to be an association with the hormone testosterone as BPH does not develop in men whose testicles were removed before puberty. Therefore, researchers believe that factors related to aging and the testicles may cause BPH.
How is BPH diagnosed?
BPH is generally confirmed through urinalysis, PSA blood testing, and a rectal exam. There is also a BPH Symptom Score Index developed by the American Urological Association (AUA) that will rate BPH based on urinary symptoms ranking it from mild to severe.
Other means of diagnosing BPH could include the following:
· Urinary blood test to screen for bladder cancer
· Post-void residual volume (PVR) to measure urine left in the bladder after urinating
· Uroflowmetry to measure how fast urine flows
· Cystoscopy to look at the urethra or bladder with a scope
· Urodynamic pressure to test pressure in the bladder during urinating
· Ultrasound of the prostate
How is BPH treated?
Because BPH progresses rather slowly over a number of years, the decision to treat is often when determined by each man depending on how much the symptoms of the condition are interfering with his life. Mild cases of BPH may not need any treatment whatsoever.
The main treatments for BPH include:
· Minimally Invasive Surgeries
What about sexual side effects of BPH treatments?
Usually a man with BPH may not have much sexual dysfunction associated with the condition. However, some medical or surgical treatments could impact a man’s sex life possibly causing erectile dysfunction or ejaculatory problems. A man should discuss his concerns of this issue with his urologist. Seeking out an experienced urologist can help a man get the best advice and help for minimizing any effects BPH treatments could have on his sex life.
If a man ignores symptoms of BPH are there risks involved?
Men are notorious for ignoring many health-related symptoms they may be experiencing including symptoms of BPH. They may assume because BPH increases with age, it is simply a normal part of the aging process. They are right but for some men ignoring symptoms of BPH could lead to urinary retention or where they lose the ability to empty their bladder. Urinary retention can be acute or chronic and is most common in men in their 50s and 60s because of prostate enlargement or BPH. If this situation happens, a man may require emergency care to put a catheter into their bladder to drain the urine.
Is it possible to prevent BPH?
There is not a definitive way to keep the prostate from enlarging as a man ages. However, excess body fat appears to have an effect on hormone levels and cell growth so a man’s food choices could perhaps help to reduce the risk. Losing and maintaining weight and eating a more plant-based diet with less emphasis on red meat may help prevent BPH. Physical activity is also highly recommended to help a man reach a healthy body weight and to keep hormone levels in check.
Dr. Samadi is a board-certified urologic oncologist trained in open and traditional and laparoscopic surgery and is an expert in robotic prostate surgery. He is chairman of urology, chief of robotic surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital. He is a medical correspondent for the Fox News Channel’s Medical A-Team Learn more at roboticoncology.com. Visit Dr. Samadi’s blog at SamadiMD.com. Follow Dr. Samadi on Twitter, Instagram, Pintrest and Facebook.