Understanding Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)

verdant foliage weaves amidst medical icons such as stethoscopes and pills, all converging towards a central depiction of a healthy prostate gland with a magnifying glass examining it to convey BPH

The prostate gland is a walnut-shaped muscular organ that surrounds the urethra of the male reproductive system. It is mostly responsible for the secretion of the fluid contained in your semen. The muscular function of this organ is to propel fluid and semen through the urethra during sexual climax.

This organ often increases in size as men age, leading to mild-to-severe symptoms, however, there are various treatment options for these symptoms and/or complications.

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia otherwise known as BPH or Benign Prostate Enlargement (BPE) is a clinical condition characterized by an expansion of the prostate gland and surrounding tissues. It occurs when there is a change in the cellular structure of the prostate gland, where the cells begin to expand, compressing the urethra of the male reproductive organ. When this occurs, you often experience a reduced urinary stream or rather diminished flow of urine and other related symptoms.

Hey, don’t be scared! BPH isn’t the same as prostate cancer and doesn’t increase your risk for cancer either. The word benign simply means non-cancerous. However, BPH can affect the quality of life with its varying distressing symptoms. BPH is common in men over the age of 50 years, although it could also occur anywhere from 45years and above for some individuals. In short, the older the individual, the higher the chance of having BPH.

BPH is usually regarded as a normal clinical condition associated with aging. Although there’s no known cause, however, the condition has be linked to hormonal changes associated with the aging process as well as family history of prostate problems. At best, these are risk factors, and not necessarily causes of BPH.

The symptoms of BPH can range from mild to severe if left untreated. And these symptoms include the following:

  • A weak urinary stream
  • Incomplete bladder emptying
  • Nocturia, is the urge to urinary more than twice at night
  • Dribbling after you urinate
  • A slowed or delayed urinary stream
  • Incontinence or leakage of urine
  • Straining when urinating

It is very important you speak with your doctor if you notice any of the above conditions to rule out possible causes and prompt intervention to avoid complications.

When you report the various signs and symptoms highlighted above, your doctor will order a few tests to examine your risk of having BPH, and these tests include;

  • Urinalysis to check for the presence of blood and bacteria
  • Urodynamic test to measure your bladder pressure during urination
  • Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) a blood test to check for prostate cancer
  • Cystoscopy to visualize the urethra and bladder by means of a cystoscope
  • Post-void residual to examine the amount of urine left in the bladder after urination

You may also be questioned by your doctor on possible medication regimens that may affect your urinary system. Therefore, it is very important you share this information with your doctor in order to make adjustments when nevertheless, some prescribed medications such as antidepressants, antihistamines, and sedatives may affect your urinary output.

BPH symptoms are often self-limiting, that is, they often subside on their own over time with adequate self-care and lifestyle adjustments. However, if symptoms persist, medical and surgical intervention can be considered to relieve discomfort and increase the quality of life.

There are natural ways or lifestyle modifications that can help reduce symptoms of BPH. They include;

  • Stress reduction
  • Urinate as soon as you feel the urge
  • Avoid alcohol and stimulants like caffeine, especially at bedtime
  • Learn and continually practice Kegel exercises to strengthen pelvic floor muscles
  • Exercise regularly
  • Avoid over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestant medications, which can cause urinary retention, worsening BPH

Apart from the various natural and lifestyle modifications for managing symptoms of BPH, there are other medical and/or surgical treatments for this condition, especially if there are complications. Your doctor will often start with medical treatment and will suggest the surgical removal of the prostate gland if the condition utterly affects the quality of life with the presence of complications. Your doctor will work with you to develop a treatment plan that is best soothed for your condition as symptoms severity varies among individuals. The goal of this treatment plan is to help you manage your symptoms and live a rather healthy life. That’s why it’s of utmost importance to discuss your symptoms of BPH with your doctor, no matter how mild or trivial you feel they may be.

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