What is a prostate?
The prostate gland is a walnut sized gland located behind the pubic bone at the base of the bladder in men. It completely surrounds the urethra as it exits the bladder. Its purpose is to make prostatic fluid, which makes up most of the semen.
What is Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia or BPH?
As we age, the prostate tends to grow in many, though not all men. This may put pressure on the urethra, causing urine flow to become weak or interrupted.
Often men find they have to get up several times in the night to urinate, leading to a disturbance in sleep. Note that this condition, called Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), is unrelated to prostate cancer, though it can affect the PSA test result used to detect prostate cancer (part of your annual Comprehensive Health Assessment). This is one reason why a digital rectal exam is also important, so the PSA test result can be interpreted properly.
How serious is BHP?
Doctors use a scoring system to help understand how severe symptoms are.
What can be done to help?
There are two types of medication which can help:
A) ones that block the effect of testosterone on the gland, slowing its growth (like Avodart), and
B) ones that relax the muscular capsule around the gland to reduce the squeeze on the urethra (like Flomax and others).
They are often used together. When medications aren’t enough, some of the prostate tissue may have to be removed through a procedure called a TURP (transurethral resection of the prostate).
For many years supplements like saw palmetto, selenium and lycopene have been recommended for prostate health. Unfortunately, there is not good evidence of their effectiveness.
What does help prevent BPH is regular ejaculation. You heard it here!