It’s no secret that prostate enlargement is a sensitive topic.
Many men are hesitant to talk about their symptoms or even admit they have the condition at all.
Men over the age of 50 are likely to get a prostate enlargement. By 60, this number is at about half; by 85, it’s almost everyone!
The American Urological Association (AUA) reports that BPH affects one in five men in their 20s and 30s. [source a]
But if you feel like you’re experiencing some of these ten worst prostate enlargement symptoms, it’s time to take action and get yourself checked out by your doctor.
- What are the symptoms of an enlarged prostate?
- How to treat an enlarged prostate
- Can an enlarged prostate cause erectile dysfunction (ED)?
What are the symptoms of an enlarged prostate?
What starts as a minor inconvenience can quickly turn into something far more serious.
BPH is an enlargement of the prostate that blocks urine flow through the urethra, which leads to potential urinary retention and even kidney damage.
If you experience any symptoms or discomfort related to this condition, consult your doctor immediately so they may treat it effectively before it becomes worse.
After a while, the bladder muscle may gradually become stronger and thicker. This causes it to contract more forcefully when forced through a narrow urethra, causing urine retention in the body.
Eventually, this makes urinating difficult. There is not enough room for such strong muscles and other organs that make up the urinary tract, eventually leading to severe problems like an inability to completely emptying its contents or septicemia (sepsis).
Here is the list of the worst prostate enlargement symptoms:
- A slow or weak urinary stream
- Going to pee again after a few minutes of going
- Urinary dribbling
- Incomplete emptying of the bladder
- Hard to start urination
- Struggle to urinate
- Always urinating
- Frequent start and stop of the urinary stream
- Waking up many times at night to pee
- Want to pee urgently
The bladder may not be fully empty when the muscles in its wall no longer contract properly. Over time, this can lead to severe problems, including urinary tract infections, stones formed in your kidneys or ureters (the tube that connects them), blood in urine, and incontinence.
A sudden inability to urinate is a medical emergency; you should see your doctor immediately! In rare cases, BPH has caused damage before symptoms even appear, like acute urinary retention – an inability to urinate right away due to blockage or become too weak.
How to treat an enlarged prostate
Men are often willing to put up with an enlarged prostate for months or years before seeing a doctor. But, then, they only come in when it becomes difficult for them during the night – having trouble falling back asleep after waking up several times.
To catch bladder cancer, stones, or prostate cancer early on, men should visit a doctor if they notice anything changing about their urinary health.
Men can have BPH without being aware of it. This is often a diagnosis made after we’ve ruled out other conditions that may be causing an issue with the discharge from the penis, such as bladder cancer or prostatic hypertrophy (BPH).
To find out if a man’s symptoms from BPH require treatment, urologists use the American Urological Association developed symptom questionnaire called “BPH Impact Index.” The higher your score is on this test determines how severe of an issue you have with BPH.
Prostate growth varies from person to person. Some people have a lot of growth, and sometimes it can get in the way of peeing. Others have very little prostate growth and don’t have any trouble peeing. So it depends on each person, but it is different for each one of us.
Watchful waiting for enlarged prostate
Watchful waiting is a good idea when the symptoms of an enlarged prostate gland are mild. The symptoms can be measured with a test, and if they are low, you should not take any medicine.
Doctors will check on patients and watch for problems. They will look for signs that the problem is getting worse and causing health problems. The BPH Index tells them how high the symptom score is and when to start treatment.
If you have symptoms that make your life terrible or blockage is causing severe consequences in your body, doctors will suggest treatment. This could be surgery to open the bladder, medicines to help the bladder work better, or other treatments.
Different treatments for enlarged prostate
There are many different treatments for the enlargement of the prostate. The best treatment for you depends on your symptoms, how severe they are, and if you have any other medical conditions. Medication is not as effective as surgery or minimally invasive procedures like laser therapy.
Every man’s prostate gland is a little different. Size, age, and health also matter. A doctor will decide what treatment to give you based on this information. Some treatments help symptoms right away, while others have risks. Doctors may recommend surgery or other treatments. The best one for you will depend on your age and your overall health.
The best option is to start with medications. However, if there isn’t any improvement, then minimally invasive therapy like robotic surgery can be done, and it’s very effective and has few side effects.
If the symptoms are unbearable, it may be best to avoid medication and go for a minimally invasive procedure over surgery. This way, you can recover quickly with less risk of long-term side effects like incontinence or erectile dysfunction, which both rarely occur after surgery.
Taking prescription drugs can be very effective in relieving symptoms of an enlarged prostate. Drugs either shrink the enlargement or inhibit cell growth within it. Symptoms are rarely bad enough to cause serious side effects, and most people will respond well with few negative consequences.
- Alpha-blockers – These drugs reduce the symptoms of an enlarged prostate by relaxing muscles around the neck and bladder. They work quickly, so patients start to feel better within a day or two. The best part about these medications is that they are most effective for men with normal to moderately sized prostates, unlike current treatments, which only treat those with severe conditions.
- 5-Alpha reductase inhibitors – These drugs are excellent alternatives to alpha-blockers for prostate enlargement. These medications can reduce the risk of acute retention and may need to be taken up to a year before any results show significant improvement in urine flow rates. Still, these effects make them worthwhile options that do not involve surgery or anesthesia.
Minimal invasive treatment
When you have an enlarged prostate, there are many ways to make it smaller. Some people get medicines to make the prostate smaller. But sometimes, these medicines don’t work. Other times, the person needs surgery.
Some ways use heat energy which shrinks the prostate without surgery in a doctor’s office. These procedures are very successful at shrinking the prostate and making it go away.
- TUMT (transurethral microwave thermotherapy) – In this procedure, microwaves are used to destroy certain tissues in the prostate. The microwaves do not affect other parts of the body, and it is quick and easy. In addition, it will reduce urinary frequency, urgency, straining, and intermittent flow. Some side effects of this surgery are that you may have painful urination. You may also need to pee more often than usual or go to the bathroom urgently. You might not produce as much semen with ejaculation, either temporarily or permanently.
- TUNA (transurethral radiofrequency needle ablation) destroys the prostate tissue and makes it easier to go to the bathroom. You will feel better. The procedure does not require you to stay in a hospital, but it can cause painful urination for weeks after.
- Prostatic stents – Sometimes, doctors will give you a metal tube that is called a stent. The doctor will put it in your pee hole to make it wider. This happens with medication or without the use of drugs. If this is not enough, then they can do surgery. Most doctors don’t think that this is something that most people should do because there are other options available for most men who need the work done on their pee hole.
Enlarged prostate surgery
Most men with very big prostates can have surgery. Surgery can help people feel better, but there are some risks and benefits of surgery. Discuss this with your doctor for the best treatment plan for you.
- TURP (transurethral resection of the prostate) – This is the most common surgery for an enlarged prostate, and it helps to reduce symptoms of this. The doctor will remove only the tissue that is pressing on the urethra so you can easily urinate. It involves using an electrical loop that cuts tissue and seals blood vessels. Doctors often recommend TURP because it’s less traumatic than open surgery and has a shorter recovery time. The TURP procedure is when a doctor inserts a tube into the bladder. The tube removes some of the prostate glands that might be blocking urine from coming out. This can happen in men who have problems with urinating. Afterward, some people will not ejaculate through their penis, but it is usually not painful. There are other possible side effects, like blood loss or painful urination, but they are rare. After TURP, some people have erectile dysfunction. This can be temporary, but for most people, it will be gone after a few months.
- TUIP (transurethral incision of the prostate) – This procedure is a surgery that makes cuts in the prostate instead of removing the tissue. The cuts reduce pressure on the urethra, making it easier to go to the bathroom. People can go home right after they get this surgery. They wear a special tube for one or two days afterward. Symptoms are less severe with TUIP than with TURP. As a result, men are often satisfied when they get their symptoms fixed. It is also less likely that you will have problems getting an erection after this surgery.
- Laser surgery – This procedure uses a high-energy laser. It destroys the prostate tissue. You may need to stay in the hospital overnight or for a few weeks. The procedure provides immediate relief of symptoms, but you may experience pain when peeing for a few weeks after the surgery. In addition, the procedure causes less blood loss, and there are side effects like retrograde ejaculation (inability to ejaculate).
- Open Prostate Surgery (Prostatectomy)- Open surgery may need to happen if a transurethral procedure cannot be used. This means that the surgeon has to make an incision in your belly. The surgeon can then remove tissue from your prostate gland. This is done if the prostate gland is huge, if there are bladder problems, or if there are stones in the bladder or a blockage in the urethra. The inner part of the prostate will be taken out, and you will have general anesthesia (or spinal anesthesia). It takes about 2-3 weeks for recovery after this procedure.
Supplements for prostate
Herbal supplements are used to help enlarged prostates. Saw palmetto, beta-sitosterol, and pygeum are all common in Europe. You can buy these herbal supplements in the US without a prescription.
- Saw Palmetto – Saw palmetto is one of the most popular herbal supplements people take for BPH. The extract is derived from ripened berries of the saw palmetto shrub. People think that saw palmetto can help with BPH symptoms. But some people say it does not work. Others say it works as well as a medication for BPH symptoms. Many different reasons could be true, such as the quality of the herbal products or whether a study was controlled well.
- Beta-sitosterol – This compound is from the pollen of ryegrass. There has been some evidence that it helps with urinary symptoms. But in four studies, the supplement did not make the prostate smaller or help with bladder emptying.
- Pygeum – This extract comes from the bark of the African plum tree. Lots of studies have found that pygeum is good for people with BPH (enlarged prostate). In 18 studies, pygeum relieved BPH symptoms twice as often as the placebo, increasing urinary flow by nearly 25%.
Can an enlarged prostate cause erectile dysfunction (ED)?
Men with a non-cancerous prostate enlargement called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) may also experience erectile dysfunction and ejaculatory problems.
Medications used to treat BPH can also cause these problems, such as finasteride (Proscar). This medication has been linked to erectile dysfunction in 3.7% of people who use it and diminished libido in 3.3%.
But alpha-blockers such as tamsulosin (Flomax), alfuzosin (Uroxatral), and silodosin (Rapaflo) can help with the symptoms of BPH without any sexual side effects. If medications fail, a man might need to have surgery.
This surgery will cause ED in some men, but it is less risky than other surgeries. So, yes. An enlarged prostate can cause erectile dysfunction.
If you haven’t been able to get or keep an erection, talk to your doctor. It is hard to talk about it because it can be embarrassing, but things are better now. People know more about the problem and how they can be helped.
Therapy can be done without medication. Sometimes, erectile dysfunction is a side effect of an underlying condition that needs its own treatment. Medication may not work as well for some types of erectile dysfunction.
If you have had prostate surgery, pills might not be the best treatment for your condition. Psychological conditions are also sometimes involved with erectile dysfunction and need counseling or therapy to treat them specifically.
[source: Harvard Prostate and ED]
Prostate enlargement symptoms vary from person to person.
Some are minor, while others can be unbearable.
When things get too much to handle, there are options to treat an enlarged prostate. They are the following:
- Minimal invasive surgery
For the best outcome, head straight to your doctor for the first sign of prostate enlargement.
And make sure to visit our men’s health section to help you live longer and better.
“I have the metabolism of a sloth and a body that hates putting on muscles. This curse motivated me to study weight loss and nutrition. I want to share my experiences and knowledge to help you achieve your ideal body.”— Christian Tanobey