Prostate health is never a fun subject to talk about, but it’s an important one for men to understand. Benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH), known colloquially and accurately as an enlarged prostate, is a startlingly common problem among older men; by age 60, more than half of men have an enlarged prostate, and by age 85, that number is closer to 90 percent.
Enlarged prostates can be a symptom of a more serious illness, but in most cases, the enlargement is benign. Despite this, BPH can significantly disrupt your life with symptoms like frequent urination, discomfort, and even persistent pain.
Strategies for Managing an Enlarged Prostate
There isn’t a simple and permanent “cure” for an enlarged prostate, but there are a number of strategies to help you mitigate and control the symptoms:
- Reduce stress. Your first step is to reduce the amount of stress in your life however you can. Like with most medical conditions, BPH is exacerbated if and when you’re experiencing stress; the increased stress hormones in your body can lead to increased inflammation and greater amounts of discomfort. You can reduce your stress in a number of ways, including delegating some of your responsibilities at work, taking more breaks and vacations, and practicing mindfulness meditation. The exact method of stress relief doesn’t matter as much as your commitment to actually pursuing it.
- Get more exercise. One fantastic method of stress relief will also double as a direct way to mitigate your prostate’s enlargement. Regular physical activity is shown to reduce your overall risk of developing BPH, and can help reduce the pain you experience as a result of BPH; these include things like jogging, resistance training, biking, or even briskly walking. You can also attempt kegel exercises, which involve tightening your pelvic floor muscles for extended, repetitive contractions. The stronger these muscles become, the more control you’ll be able to exert over your bladder.
- Adjust your medications. Some medications have the potential to interfere with BPH, and in some cases make the symptoms worse. For example, diuretics (like the kind you’d take for high blood pressure) can make you urinate more often. Antispasmodic medications, prescriptions and over-the-counter medications used to treat allergies, and neurological medications (like those used for depression or Alzheimer’s disease) can also interfere with BPH.
- Empty your bladder fully. When you need to urinate, make sure you empty your bladder completely. One of the worst symptoms of prostate enlargement is frequent urination, but you can reduce the number of bathroom trips you have to make by taking the time to empty your bladder with every visit. It may take you a few minutes longer than usual, but it will spare you the frustration and discomfort of needing to go again a few minutes later.
- Reduce fluid intake late at night. It’s important to stay hydrated, so reducing your overall fluid intake is a bad idea. However, it’s beneficial to avoid drinking excessive fluids within three hours of the time you go to bed. This will help you prevent frequent urination during the night, allowing you to get a full night’s sleep (and reduce your stress as well).
- Take BPH medication. Depending on the size of your prostate, your age, and other health risks you may be facing, your doctor may recommend taking BPH-specific medication. There are a variety of different BPH medications available, including alpha blockers, which relieve the muscles surrounding the bladder for mild cases. 5-alpha reductase inhibitors are for moderate cases, and work by using hormone adjustments in the body to physically shrink the prostate. Cialis (tadalafil) is also often used, especially when erectile dysfunction is also present.
- Consider CoreTherm treatment. If your prostate isn’t responding to any of your lifestyle treatments or you are having minimal symptom relief with medications, consider opting for CoreTherm treatment. CoreTherm treatment can be done as an outpatient procedure in a physician’s During the treatment, a proprietary system delivers thermal therapy to reduce the prostate tissue interfering with your urethra. CoreTherm provides long-term symptom relief without the risks associated with more invasive surgical options.
What are the Complications?
BPH rarely goes away fully on its own without any treatment; instead, you’re merely managing the symptoms of the condition. Fortunately, BPH is not known to lead to prostate cancer or other prostate diseases, though they can coexist. Should your BPH symptoms grow worse, you may have persistent urinary tract infection or bladder stones. In extreme cases, you may find yourself completely unable to urinate and be required to use an indwelling catheter or intermittent self-catheterization.