The prostate is a gland that produces the fluid that carries sperm during ejaculation. It surrounds the urethra, the tube through which urine passes out of the body.
An enlarged prostate means the gland has grown bigger. Prostate enlargement happens to almost all men as they get older. As the gland grows, it can block the urethra and cause urination and bladder problems.
Some changes in your everyday life may help relieve your symptoms:
Urinate when you first get the urge. Also, go to the bathroom when you have the chance, even if you don't feel a need to urinate.
Avoid alcohol and caffeine, especially after dinner.
Don't drink a lot of fluid all at once. Spread out fluids throughout the day. Avoid drinking fluids within 2 hours of bedtime.
Keep warm and exercise regularly. Cold weather and lack of physical activity may worsen symptoms.
Reduce stress. Nervousness and tension can lead to more frequent urination.
Your health care provider may prescribe a medicine called alpha-1- blocker (doxazosin, prazosin, tamsulosin, terazosin, and alfuzosin).
Most people find that these medicines help their symptoms, usually soon after they start taking them. You must take them every day.
Common side effects include nasal stuffiness, headaches, lightheadedness when you stand up, and weakness. You may also experience a decreased ejaculate.
Ask your doctor about taking Sildenafil (Viagra), vardenafil (Levitra), and tadalafil (Cialis) with alpha-1- blockers.
Finasteride and dutasteride (5 alpha-reductase-bph inhibitors) may also be prescribed.
You will need to take these drugs every day for 3 - 6 months before your symptoms begin to improve.
Side effects include less interest in sex and less semen when you ejaculate.
Watch out for drugs that may make your symptoms worse:
Try NOT to take over-the-counter cold and sinus medications that contain decongestants or antihistamines. They can make your symptoms worse.
Men who are taking water pills or diuretics may want to talk to their doctor about reducing the dosage or switching to another type of drug.
Other drugs that may worsen symptoms are certain antidepressants and drugs used to treat spasticity.
Many herbs and supplements have been tried for treating an enlarged prostate.
Saw palmetto has been used by millions of men to ease BPH symptoms. It is unclear whether this herb is effective in relieving the signs and symptoms of BPH.
Talk with your regular health care provider about any herbs or supplements you're taking.
Generally, manufacturers of herbal remedies and dietary supplements do not need approval from the Food and Drug Administration to sell their products.
When to Call the Doctor
Call your doctor right away if you have:
Less urine than usual
Fever or chills
Back, side, or abdominal pain
Blood or pus in your urine
Also call your doctor if:
Your bladder does not feel completely empty after you urinate.
You take medications that may cause urinary problems, like diuretics, antihistamines, antidepressants, or sedatives. Do NOT stop or adjust your medications on your own without talking to your doctor.
You have taken self-care measures without relief.
Roehrborn CG. Male lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Med Clin North Am. 2011 Jan;95(1):87-100.
McVary KT, Roehrborn CG, Avins AL, Barry MJ, Bruskewitz RC, Donnell RF, et al. Update on AUA guideline on the management of benign prostatic hyperplasia. J Urol. 2011 May;185(5):1793-803. Epub 2011 Mar 21.
Tacklind J, Fink HA, Macdonald R, Rutks I, Wilt TJ. Finasteride for benign prostatic hyperplasia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010 Oct 6;(10):CD006015.
Louis S. Liou, MD, PhD, Chief of Urology, Cambridge Health Alliance, Visiting Assistant Professor of Surgery, Harvard Medical School. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.