Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is the enlargement of the prostate gland and is the most common prostate problem for men over the age of 50. The prostate gland is a male reproductive gland that sits just below the bladder and wraps around the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body (the urethra). The prostate gland helps add nutrients to sperm that assist with the fertilization of an egg during intercourse. When your prostate gland is enlarged, it can negatively impact your sex life and your ability to urinate. If you have untreated BPH, complications can range from the inability to successfully empty your bladder to having a satisfying sex life. We’re answering common questions about untreated BPH and sharing how life can improve with treatment.
What causes BPH?
The exact cause of BPH is not well understood but many doctors and researchers believe it is tied to hormonal changes as men age. Some men are more likely to develop BPH than others. BPH risk factors include:
- Being 40 or older
- Having family members who have BPH
- Having other medical conditions like obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease
- Participating in little to no physical exercise
- Having erectile dysfunction (ED)
Can an enlarged prostate cause ED?
No. Erectile dysfunction (ED) and enlarged prostate are two separate problems but both increase with age. An enlarged prostate does not cause erectile dysfunction, but some medications used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia can cause erectile dysfunction.
Can an enlarged prostate cause constipation?
Yes. Because of the prostate’s proximity to the rectum, when the prostate is enlarged, it can place pressure on the rectum and make it difficult to have a bowel movement.
Can BPH affect the ability to urinate?
Yes. If your prostate is enlarged, it can encroach on your urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body). When your urethra is constricted it can lead to the slowing of your urine stream and even the inability to urinate. If you are unable to urinate, it is an emergency, and you should seek immediate medical attention.
Are enlarged prostate and kidney function related?
Typically, no. However, an enlarged prostate that leads to a urinary tract infection could turn into a kidney infection. If you have kidney stones, these could place pressure on your prostate and lead to more inflammation and swelling of the prostate.
Does benign prostatic hyperplasia lead to cancer?
No. BPH does not cause cancer. One marker doctors use to check for prostate cancer is PSA level. Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is a protein produced in the prostate gland. A PSA test uses a blood draw to check the PSA level in a man’s blood stream. Men who have prostate cancer often have an elevated PSA level, but other conditions, like BPH and prostatitis, can also cause elevated PSA levels. If you have elevated PSA levels, your doctor will evaluate you further to determine the cause and best treatment.
What are treatment options for BPH?
If you have BPH, you should seek treatment at a center that offers a variety of treatment and therapy options. Everyone responds to treatments differently. A team of doctors who specialize in BPH will be the best equipped to provide you with the most comprehensive treatment options. Goals of BPH treatment should include improving your quality of life, preserving your sexual function, and providing you with the best possible outcomes. Treatments are varied and can range from lifestyle changes to medications to surgical procedures.
You can likely see improved urinary function by making some diet and lifestyle changes. Eating a plant-based diet, avoiding coffee, soda, and tea, and getting consistent exercise and sleep can help everyone, regardless of sex, improve atypical urinary symptoms including a slow urine flow. Male treatment will focus on potential sexual dysfunction. A minor procedure called Advanced Urolift provides the best surgical treatment for BPH with no sexual side effects. This is a targeted, proprietary technique that is done without any cuts or incisions, and you are sent home without a catheter. Complications of this BPH surgery are minimal.
You do not have to live with the unpleasant and inconvenient symptoms of BPH. Schedule an appointment with your doctor to learn more about Advanced Urolift and other treatment options available for BPH.