Every November, men are encouraged ‘grow a mo to save a bro’ as the Movember charity initiative raises awareness of men’s health. Initially focused on prostate cancer, the charity has expanded its focus to cover a whole host of health issues that men find difficult to talk about openly.
One ‘unspoken’ health issue that affects millions of men over the age of 50 is an enlarged prostate. If you find yourself experiencing sleepless nights due to frequent trips to the bathroom, then you may be suffering from benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH. Read on to discover other indicators you might have BPH and your treatment options…
What is BPH?
BPH is a benign enlargement of the prostate and one of the chief symptoms is a frequent urge to urinate. Many men just ascribe this to the ageing process, but this is a condition that can be treated and, if left undiagnosed, could result in permanent bladder damage.
While BPH is a benign condition and not related to prostate cancer, it can have a significant impact on quality of life. In one recent survey, 82% of men reported that they woke up at least once a night to urinate on a regular basis. Sixty-four per cent of the women surveyed responded that their sleep patterns were also affected by their partner’s condition.
Symptoms of an enlarged prostate
The prostate is a gland that is usually the size and shape of a walnut and is found underneath the bladder and surrounding the urethra, the tube through which men urinate and ejaculate. The prostate’s main job is to make semen.
An enlarged prostate is very common over the age of 50 and although not all men will experience symptoms, this is what you can expect:
- Frequent need to urinate, particularly at night
- Sudden urge to urinate
- Difficulty starting to urinate
- Weak flow when you do urinate
- Stop and start flow
- Dribbling urine afterwards
- Sensation that your bladder hasn’t emptied properly
Less rare signs include:
- Blood in the urine may be a symptom but is rare and can be a sign of something more serious
- Urinary tract infections
- Urinary incontinence
- Inability to urinate, known as urine retention, which can result in bladder and kidney problems such as painful bladder stones
Diagnosing an enlarged prostate
The first step will be to discuss your symptoms. Dr Tickle will ask about your symptoms, how long you’ve been experiencing them and how they are affecting your life. You may want to record a diary prior to your appointment.
Dr Tickle will rule out other health issues, such as diabetes, and lifestyle factors. Certain medications, such as blood pressure medicines or anti-depressants, may cause similar symptoms.
A urine sample may be taken to check for infections. A prostate specific antigen (PSA) test can check whether you have raised PSA levels that could indicate a problem with your prostate. An enlarged prostate, urine infections and prostate cancer can all make your PSA level rise. A physical examination of your abdomen and rectum may be performed.
Dr Tickle may refer you to a urology specialist for further tests including a urine flow test, ultrasound scan of the bladder or kidneys, bladder pressure test, or a flexible cystoscopy to check for any blockages.
What are my treatment options for enlarged prostate?
There are three main treatment options for enlarged prostate:
Lifestyle changes: simple lifestyle changes can improve symptoms, so they are not affecting your quality of life. This can include drinking less alcohol, caffeine or fizzy drinks which can irritate the bladder. Regular exercise may also alleviate your symptoms and can also help you lose weight as being obese can worsen symptoms.
Medicines: if lifestyle changes fail to control your symptoms, certain medicines can treat an enlarged prostate. The main ones are alpha-blockers and 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors. These medicines do have side effects, though, which Dr Tickle will discuss with you in full.
Surgery: surgical intervention may be an option if your symptoms don’t improve with lifestyle changes or medicines, or if your symptoms are severe. The main types of surgery for enlarged prostate are transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP), laser surgery and a prostatic urethral lift.
If you’re concerned you may have an enlarged prostate that is affecting your quality of life, don’t think it’s just one of things you have to put up with as you get older. Call 07788 797 824 to arrange a consultation with Dr Tickle.