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Urology

Prostate Health

What does the Prostate Do?

To explain what prostate trouble is, it is important to understand what the prostate is supposed to do in the first place. The prostate is a ‘genital ‘gland located just below the bladder. Its role is to direct urine or semen. During ejaculation, the prostate shuts off the urinary stream, since otherwise the semen would take the easier route into the bladder.

Enlarged Prostate

What is an Enlarged Prostate?

About half of men 50 years of age or older will have problems urinating due to an enlarged prostate gland. Of those, only about half will experience these problems:

  • having to go immediately
  • needing more time to empty the bladder
  • taking longer to empty the bladder
  • more and more frequent trips to the bathroom, day or night

Some men will experience an enlarged prostate due to cancer. More information on Prostate Cancer.

What Causes Prostate Enlargement

There are many different reasons that the prostate may enlarge. Sometimes enlargement may be caused by prostate cancer. If you, or a loved one, is experiencing any of the above symptoms, it is a good idea to see a urologist to diagnose the cause.

Prostate Hyperplasia (Enlargement)

When the prostate enlarges the urine flow through it becomes obstructed. This means that the bladder has to work harder to move urine through the prostate. When it becomes harder to push the urine out, the bladder reacts by regulating how much urine it will hold. The more urine in the bladder, the harder it is to empty completely. Going often and urgently is the body’s response to prostate blockage. There are several ways to address this condition.

Managing an Enlarged Prostate

Initially, when symptoms are not severe, simply making small changes such as reducing fluid intake in the evening or making sure to go to the bathroom just before bedtime may provide relief.

Prescription Medication

Half of the prostate is made up of muscle tissue. Prescriptions are available to relax this muscle which leads to easier urination. This will take effect very rapidly (within a few days) and can relieve nighttime trips to the bathroom. While medication may delay symptoms, they do not prevent further problems as the gland continues to grow.

There are also medications that deter prostate enlargement. These reduce the testosterone effect on the gland. This works because the prostate needs testosterone to exist; without it, the gland will actually shrink. This process takes time and benefits take about six months to develop.

These two types of medications are frequently used together, often with successful results. Many men are completely fine with this, and require no other measures to overcome their symptoms.

Prostate Procedures

Sometimes the medications used to control prostate symptoms are not enough. In that case, it is necessary to perform a procedure in order to open the urine stream. This involves removal of the prostate blockage with a special tool or with laser treatment. Rarely, in very large glands, open surgery is necessary.

Open surgery is not common, although it very effective in controlling prostate symptoms.

Deciding on Treatment

Whatever your case may be, the decision of how to deal with prostate symptoms is up to you. Talk with your physician to learn about the options available, so you are empowered to make the choice that is right for you.