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Prostate Facts You Need to Know

Needing to empty your bladder often, getting up in the night to go to the toilet, and the feeling that your bladder is never really empty are all symptoms of an enlarged prostate.

It affects about 1 in 5 men between the ages of 50 and 60 and is even more common in later years.

Mostly, the condition does not become so troublesome that men cannot adjust and cope with it. For some men, though, an enlarged prostate becomes a real burden. The symptoms could be severe. They might be tired during the day because they cannot get a good night's sleep. That can cause problems in their personal, family and work lives.

There may be a lot of important decisions to make: whether to get treatment at all and, if so, which treatment to choose. For a very small proportion of men, the condition can cause complications that require immediate treatment. However, an enlarged prostate is not cancer and it does not mean that men's sex life can no longer be satisfying for them and their partners.

Most men affected by an enlarged prostate will never seek medical help. The problem might get a little worse, but usually not very much. Some men will try out non-prescription ("over-the-counter") herbal medicines for relief. There are also prescribed medications that can help. About 1 in 10 men will decide to have surgery to reduce the size of the prostate or improve urine flow. There is no simple "cure" for an enlarged prostate, but there are many options if you do have the condition. Prostate Home Remedy

What is the prostate and why does it get enlarged?

The prostate is a gland that is an important part of a man's sexual organs. When a man has a sexual climax, he will usually ejaculate semen. Semen is made of fluid and sperm. The prostate produces the fluid in semen and the testicles produce the sperm.

The prostate lies between the rectum and the base of the penis, underneath the bladder. It surrounds part of the urethra, which is the canal or tube through which urine passes from the bladder into the penis and then out of the body. If the prostate enlarges, it can put pressure on the bladder and on the urethra.

 

Prostate graphic

 

During puberty, the prostate grows to about the size and shape of a walnut. That happens quite quickly. After about the age of 25, the prostate starts growing again, and it keeps on growing very slowly throughout a man's life. A certain amount of growth is a normal part of ageing. The gland usually does not get very big and so it generally does not cause problems.

Why the prostate grows so much more in some men than others is not really clear. Smoking, vasectomy (a surgical procedure for contraception), obesity and high alcohol intake have not been proven to influence whether or not the prostate enlarges. An enlarged prostate appears to just be a result of getting older and the hormone changes that come along with that.

What exactly is BPH and what are the symptoms?

If the prostate grows more than normal, then it might put pressure on the bladder and urethra, and start causing problems with urination. The medical term for this group of symptoms is "benign prostatic syndrome" (BPS) or lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS).

The enlargement of the prostate is called benign prostatic hyperplasia or benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH). The word "benign" means that, although it is a growth, it is not cancerous. The word "hyperplasia" comes from the Greek word meaning "enlargement".

When the urethra is squeezed, urine cannot flow through it normally. This is called an obstruction or blockage. The muscles at the bottom of the bladder are also affected by an enlarged prostate. The bladder muscles start contracting even when there is very little urine inside the bladder, so the man feels the need to urinate more often. But the pressure also impairs the functioning of the bladder. It can no longer empty itself properly, so some urine stays behind (residual urine).

BPH can be associated with the following unpleasant symptoms:

  • Needing to urinate more often and urgently, especially at night.
  • Taking a while for the urine to start flowing.
  • A weak urine flow that takes longer to finish.
  • Dripping and leaking after urinating - and the bladder does not feel empty.

One of the most severe complications of BPH is acute urinary retention (anuria). That means that a man quite suddenly cannot empty his bladder at all. Acute urinary retention is a condition that needs medical attention and most likely surgery. But complications as severe as this are not common. Over a five-year period, only about 1 to 3 out of every 100 men with BPH will have acute urinary retention (1-3%). The risk is higher for men who have more severe BPH, though.

BPH is very uncommon before the age of 40, but perhaps 1 in 5 men between the ages of 50 and 59 are affected by it (20%). It becomes more common later in life: perhaps 7 out of 10 men older than 70 will have symptoms caused by an enlarged prostate (70%). Although it is not clear why, there is not always a direct link between the size of the prostate and how severe the symptoms are. Some men with a very enlarged prostate have few symptoms, while others have a lot of problems even though their prostate is not very enlarged. Prostate Home Remedy