What is the prostate gland?
The prostate is a walnut-shaped gland that is a part of the reproductive system in males. It is located in the pelvic region, between the penis and the urinary bladder; in front of the rectum A fluid that is part of semen is produced by the prostate gland, and this is its main function. The prostate is made up of two lobes, that are enclosed by an outer layer of tissue.
What is an enlarged prostate?
As the name suggests, an enlarged prostate is when the prostate gland grows larger in size. This condition is also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). This is not cancerous.
What causes an enlarged prostate?
The urine flows from the bladder through the urethra in men. An enlarged prostate blocks this flow of urine through the urethra. The cells of the prostate gland multiply over time and create an enlargement that puts pressure on the urethra – the tube which carries both urine and semen. As a result, the urethra becomes narrower, forcing the bladder to push urine more forcefully down the body.
With time, the bladder muscle grows stronger and thicker, and extra sensitive. It begins to contract even when the quantity of urine is small, causing an urge to urinate more often. As time passes, the bladder muscle is unable to overcome the effect of the narrowed urethra, and the urine stays in the bladder,and it is not emptied properly.
What are the symptoms of an enlarged prostate?
The commonly noticed symptoms of an enlarged prostate include:
- A slow or weak urinary system
- A feeling that the urinary bladder is not emptied fully
- Difficulty in starting to urinate
- Frequent need to urinate
- Urgent need to urinate
- Getting up frequently at night for urinating
- A stream of urine that starts and stops
- Strain in urinating
- Dribbling urine
- Immediate need to go again after urinating
What are the treatment options?
An enlarged prostate can be treated in three main ways:
- Lifestyle changes
If tests reveal that you have an enlarged prostate, your doctor will analyze the test results and your medical history to determine which course of treatment is right for you.
Lifestyle changes: If your condition of an enlarged prostate is not causing any problems for you, you may choose to wait and see if the symptoms grow worse before opting for treatment. An enlarged prostate normally develops at a slow rate, and you might never experience any worse symptoms.
The easy changes that you can make to your lifestyle are:
- Drink less alcohol, caffeine beverages, aerated drinks.
- Drink fewer fluids in the evening but drink enough during the day
- Remember to use the washroom before leaving home for a long journey
- After urinating once, wait and go again to empty the bladder.
- Check if any medicines are making your condition worse by consulting the doctor.
- Eat more fruit and fiber.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Exercise daily.
- Retrain your bladder with a doctor’s help.
- Do a urethral massage after urination
- Wear absorbent pads or sheaths
Medication: If lifestyle changes cannot keep your symptoms in control, you may need to opt for medication. The two main types of medicines for an enlarged prostate are:
- 5 Alpha reductase inhibitors
Alpha-blockers are tablets that relax the prostate muscles and the muscles around the opening of the bladder, making it easier to pass urine.
5 Alpha reductase inhibitors shrink the prostate slowly so that the pressure on the urethra lessens and it becomes easier to pass urine.
Surgery: Surgery is an option you can go for if lifestyle changes and/or medication do not help your symptoms or if you are getting severe symptoms.
The common types of surgery to treat an enlarged prostate are:
- Transurethral resection of the prostate
- Holmium laser enucleation of the prostate
- Transurethral vaporization of the prostate
- Green Light laser surgery
- Prostatic urethral lift
- Bladder neck incision
- Open simple prostatectomy
Consult your doctor to discuss the pros and cons of each type of surgery before you get treated.
An enlarged prostate can cause problems in urinating, but the symptoms might not be severe. The treatment options vary depending on the severity of your symptoms and any other health problems you might have.