Treatment for an Enlarged Prostate
An enlarged prostate is a common condition in men over 40. Learn ways to treat it.

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Treatment for an Enlarged Prostate

There are many ways to treat an enlarged prostate, also known as benign prostatic hyperplasis or BPH. What treatment you get depends on factors including your symptoms, their seriousness and their effect on your urinary system. Generally, the least invasive treatment options are considered first.

The prostate is a small gland that functions as part of a man's reproductive system. It sits below the bladder. It has two lobes, or sides. The gland wraps around the urethra, the tube that allows urine to exit the body With age, a man's prostate normally gets larger. It won't necessarily cause problems or symptoms, but it is common in men over 50.

When the prostate enlarges, the gland can press against the urethra. This can lead to problems urinating. Symptoms might include:

  • A hesitant, interrupted, weak stream
  • Urgency, leaking or dribbling
  • More frequent need to urinate, especially at night
  • Urinary retention

BPH can be made worse by or lead to conditions such as:

  • A urinary tract infection
  • Bladder or kidney damage
  • Bladder stones

If you have BPH, your treatment options may include:

Self-care/lifestyle changes. Certain lifestyle changes may help. Avoid medicines that can make your symptoms worse. Those include certain antihistamines and decongestants found in cold and allergy medications. Try to stop drinking fluids a few hours before you go to bed or plan to go out. Limit fluids that tend to make you go more often. And when you urinate, try to go twice. Empty your bladder and wait a few moments. Gently try to empty again, but don't force it by pushing or straining.

Watchful waiting. Studies have shown that BPH symptoms often improve without treatment for about a third of men with mild cases. If you have mild BPH, your doctor may recommend a "watchful waiting" approach. This just means your doctor is keeping an eye on your condition. Sometimes, symptoms may get better on their own. The watchful waiting approach is not for men with severe symptoms.

Medication. Two types of drugs may be prescribed to treat BPH. These drugs can stop the growth of the prostate, shrink the prostate or relax the prostate and bladder to improve urine flow. Medication relieves symptoms for most men.

If medicine alone doesn't work, there are other procedures that may be recommended. These treatments use a variety of methods but all aim to reduce the size of the prostate and/or improve urine flow.

Minimally invasive treatments. These approaches are not as invasive as traditional surgery. They may include using computer-controlled microwave heat to destroy excess tissue in the prostate.

Or your doctor may consider a therapy using low-level radio-frequency energy delivered through two needles to remove part of the gland. Another procedure uses heated water to destroy excess tissue in the gland.

These methods are not a cure for BPH, but they can help relieve pressure on the urethra.

Surgery. When drug and other treatments don't ease your symptoms, your doctor may recommend surgery. This will remove the enlarged tissue that is pressing against the urethra.

The most common surgical procedure is transurethral resection of the prostate, or TURP. The surgeon inserts an instrument through the penis. It has a wire loop that allows the surgeon to remove the obstructing tissue.

Another procedure, called the transurethral incision of the prostate (TUIP), widens the urethra.

Your surgeon also may use a laser to destroy prostate tissue and shrink the gland.

If you've been diagnosed with an enlarged prostate, review your treatment options with your doctor. Together you can decide what type of treatment, if any, is right for you.

By Susan G. Warner, Contributing Writer
Created on 06/28/1999
Updated on 09/17/2013
Sources:
  • UpToDate. Clinical manifestations and diagnostic evaluation of benign prostatic hyperplasia.
  • National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Prostate enlargement: Benign prostatic hyperplasia.
Copyright © OptumHealth.
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