One of the most common prostate conditions, especially in men over the age of 50, is benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH. The term benign means that the condition is not cancerous and the term “hyperplasia” means abnormal or unusual growth. The result of BPH is that the prostate becomes enlarged. Because the urethra runs through the middle of the prostate, enlargement of the prostate can cause pressure on the urethra and on the opening of the bladder, which can lead to urinary problems.
The urge to urinate frequently, a weak urine flow, breaks in the urine stream, a need to strain to urinate, a sensation of not being able to empty the bladder completely, and dribbling are all symptoms of an enlarged prostate.
Treatment options for BPH include watchful waiting, drug therapy, and surgery. The goals of treatment are to improve urinary flow, decrease symptoms, and delay or prevent the progression of BPH.
If symptoms are mild and do not affect a man’s quality of life, his provider may suggest watchful waiting. During watchful waiting, men receive regular checkups and report any intolerable BPH symptoms to their provider. The option to proceed with watchful waiting is a decision made between the provider and the patient. Some men feel that drug therapy may be a greater inconvenience than mild symptoms of BPH, in which case watchful waiting may be the appropriate course of action.
However, if the symptoms are more severe and watchful waiting is not a recommended option, drug treatment may be necessary. In this case, medications are used to relieve BPH symptoms. These medicines work by either reducing the size of the prostate gland or relaxing the muscles where the bladder and the prostate meet.
If drug therapy doesn’t effectively relieve the symptoms, surgery may be required to help correct the condition. If a man experiences some of the more severe symptoms of BPH such as recurrent urinary retention, recurrent blood in the urine, recurrent urinary tract infections, or bladder stones, then drug therapy is frequently not sufficient. These symptoms may indicate that surgery may be the best strategy to correct the problem.