Running to the bathroom a few times per night? That could be the first sign of prostate enlargement, otherwise known as BPH.
In medical terminology, it is referred to as benign prostate hyperplasia or just BPH. In simple words, it is a prostate disorder, that occurs when the prostate gland that wraps around part of the urinary tract, becomes enlarged. It presses on the tube carrying urine altering the flow and the ability to completely pass urine.
In this article, I’ll share with you how to detect BPH and how to relieve symptoms. I’ll help you get your questions answered and finally take action against annoying, difficult-to-ignore symptoms of BPH.
Enlarged Prostate (BPH): Facts, Causes, Symptoms, and Diagnosis
What are the Causes of BPH?
It isn't clear what exactly can cause prostate enlargement. However, there are four risk factors for the development of BPH:
As you get older, your body experiences changes in the balance of sex hormones, which can impact your prostate. That is why men over 60 are always at risk of BPH. On the other side, it is very rare that a man gets the symptoms of prostate enlargement before turning 40.
If you have a father or a brother, with prostate problems, unfortunately, you have a high risk of having BPH.
Influence of Other Diseases
Diabetes and heart disease and the use of beta-blockers can increase the risk of BPH.
Your health always depends on your lifestyle and habits. For instance, if you consume a lot of junk food and suffer from obesity, you are likely to develop BPH. However, if you exercise and stick to a healthy diet, your risk of BPH significantly decreases.
What are the Common Symptoms of BPH?
- 1BPH is not prostate cancer (Benign means “not harmful” "not cancer," and hyperplasia means increased cell production).
- 2BPH doesn’t increase your risk of getting prostate cancer, however, it is possible to have both at the same time.
- 3The symptoms of BPH and prostate cancer are similar. Therefore, it's important to get checked.
How is BPH Diagnosed?
Step 1 - Physical Exam
The doctor estimates the size and shape of the prostate.
Step 2 - Proper Testing
Step 3 - Additional Tests
Depending on your symptoms and previous test results, you might have to go through a few more tests :
Note: DHT Testing
Patients with BPH may not have increased DHT levels. Nevertheless, it is a crucial test for diagnosis.
One of the best ways to measure DHT levels is DUTCH Test. It is designed to asses not only DHT marker, but total DHEA production, total testosterone, and metabolic preferences (5a vs 5b metabolites).
Note: PSA Testing. Avoid Self-Diagnosisng!
Assessing PSA (a prostate-specific antigen) levels is not less important for the diagnosis of prostate problems. You can do this test in the comfort of your home by ordering a PSA test kit from LetsGetChecked.
However, the results of testing can be tricky. Quite often, PSA levels are high due to aging, inflammation, prostate infection, surgery or prostate cancer.
For this reason, the diagnosis should be made by your doctor, taking into consideration the results of a physical exam, blood, and urine tests. Self-diagnosis and self-treatment may cause complications.
Also, if you need some help with interpretation, you can schedule an appointment with me.
Treatment of BPH: Drugs, Surgery, Self-Care, and Natural Remedies
Self-Care and Healthy Habits against BPH
There are many ways to deal with prostate enlargement. The treatment of BPH starts with great changes: changing your lifestyle, diet and getting rid of bad habits that ruin not only your male health but negatively impact your overall health.
What I’m driving at, that relying on pills is the wrong attitude towards BPH treatment. Here is a set of ten important actions you have to take against BPH:
- 1Don’t hold your pee, go to the bathroom as soon as you feel the urge
- 2Empty the bladder completely when urinating
- 3Try to avoid antihistamines, diuretics, and decongestants, that can cause urination problems
- 4Eliminate the consumption of alcohol and caffeine, especially after dinner
- 5Avoiding fluids in the evening to reduce the risk of nighttime urination
- 6Put efforts to reduce food cravings and get rid of excessive weight
- 7Learn to manage stress and nervousness to prevent the aggravation of BPH symptoms
- 8Don’t be a couch-potato and exercise regularly
- 9Practice regularly Kegel exercises to strengthen your pelvic muscles
- 10Quit smoking (cigarette smoking can not only aggravate BPH symptoms but increase the reask of developing prostate cancer)
Drugs that Help Treat BPH
Changing lifestyle might be not enough to treat an enlarged prostate. You have to consult your doctor on what medicine would work for you. Let’s have a closer look at the common BPH medications.
Uses: Alpha-1 blockers relax the muscles of the bladder and prostate and help make the urination easier.
Effectiveness: Medication is good for relatively small prostates.
Examples: Alfuzosin (Uroxatral), tamsulosin (Flomax), doxazosin (Cardura), and silodosin (Rapaflo).
Side effects: Headache, dizziness, orthostatic hypotension, and reflex tachycardia.
5-alpha reductase inhibitors
Uses: This medication can shrink your prostate by blocking hormones that make your prostate grow.
Effectiveness: It is good for men with very large prostates.
Examples: Finasteride (Propecia, Proscar), dutasteride (Avodart).
Side effects: Low libido, erectile dysfunction, and decreased ejaculate.
Uses: It improves blood flow to the penis and helps relax muscle cells in the bladder and prostate.
Effectiveness: Tadalafil helps treat both BPH and erectile dysfunction (ED).
Examples: Cialis, Adcirca.
Side effects: Headache, stomach upset, muscle pain, back pain, stuffy nose, flushing, dizziness.
Note: For better results, it is often recommended by the doctor to take an alpha blocker and a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor at the same time.
Is Surgery Needed for BPH?
In the case of BPH, surgery is not obligatory if you don’t have severe symptoms and a very large prostate.
However, there are a few situations, when surgical therapy is recommended:
There are numerous not invasive or minimally invasive surgical options for BPH. If your condition requires surgery, you have to decide with your doctor, which solution is the best for you.
Note: Both medications and surgical therapy can have side effects. Depending on the type of treatment you choose, you may encounter various complications, including retrograde ejaculation, temporary difficulty with urination, urinary tract infection, bleeding, erectile dysfunction, incontinence.
Natural Remedies for BPH
These days, natural remedies are rapidly gaining popularity. Although FDA has not approved yet specific natural remedies, some herbs have been used as an alternative medicine for centuries.
The main reason to choose natural remedies is the minimum risk of side effects. Common drugs can cause numerous side effects and complications, including headaches, upset stomach, problems with vision, erectile dysfunction, low sex drive, or retrograde ejaculation.
If you use natural remedies as intended, they are helpful and safe. On another side, if your condition is critical, taking drugs or even going through surgery might be unavoidable.
Speaking of the supplements to relieve the symptoms of prostate enlargement naturally, these are the most effective options so far:
Note: Zinc is an essential nutrient for men’s health. By maintaining healthy levels of zinc, you can prevent the growth of cancer cells and reduce the risk of BPH and prostate cancer. However, abusing supplementation with zinc may create the opposite effect.
The Recommended Supplements
Advanced Trichology DHT Blocker with Immune Support
A mix of powerful DHT blocking herbs and probiotic, prebiotics, and natural antifungal and antibacterial ingredients.
Havasu Nutrition Saw Palmetto Supplement for Prostate Health
Saw Palmetto is a natural way to prevent hair loss, support prostate function, and urinary health.
Enlarged Prostate Diet
By the age of 80, the high percentage of men will live with BPH. However, you can prevent, delay or relieve the symptoms of prostate enlargement by following a healthy diet.
The nutritious diet rich in certain vitamins and minerals is key to prostate health. By consuming certain veggies and fruits, you can lower your risk for BPH. To modify your diet, just check out the lists with foods to eat and avoid bellow.
Foods to Protect Your Prostate
To support your prostate health, you have to consume more fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats.
Here is the list with specific foods beneficial for your prostate function:
Salmon - healthy fats rich in omega-3 fatty acids, helpful for reducing inflammation
Nuts and Sesame Seeds - zinc, which helps balance testosterone and DHT, and inhibits cancer cells
Tomatoes - a source of lycopene and antioxidant, beneficial for prostate gland cells
Berries( raspberries, blackberries) - antioxidants, that help fight free radicals
Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage) - sulforaphane, which promotes a healthy prostate and helps reduce cancer cell growth.
Citrus (oranges, lemons, grapefruits) - vitamin C, which is a powerful antioxidant, preventing cells from mutating into cancerous ones
Harmful Foods for Prostate
The intake of several foods should be reduced and even eliminated to keep your prostate healthy. Moreover, it is vital to fight food cravings and overeating.
These are the five main foods you have to avoid at all costs:
Red and Processed Meat - contains heterocyclic amines (HCAs), which can contribute to the development of prostate cancer
Dairy - if you are already at risk of health problems with the prostate, it is better to skip milk and dairy products like butter and cheese
Caffeine - act as a diuretic, increasing urinary frequency
Alcohol - stimulates urine production
Sodium - high intake of salt can worsen symptoms of BPH
Enlarged prostate or BPH is not a deadly disease. It can be treated in many ways, with the help of drugs or surgery. You can also relieve annoying symptoms of BPH with the help of natural remedies, nutritious diet, and regular workouts.
On the other side ignoring and not treating BPH and its symptoms can lead to the following complications:
Therefore, if you noticed some common BPH symptoms like frequent or painful urination, don't hesitate to consult a doctor. The earlier you identify the health problem, the easier to treat disease and prevent complications and unwanted expenses on medications.