If you have benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), you’re not alone—over 14 million Americans and 30 million men worldwide have symptoms of BPH. It affects upwards of 30% of men over 50 and 90% of men over 85.
The good news is that, given the prevalence of BPH, we know quite a bit about it and how to treat it. Below, Interventional Radiologist, Dr. Adam S. Gropper, provides answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about benign prostatic hypertrophy.
What Is Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy (BPH)?
Benign prostatic hypertrophy occurs as a result of prostate gland enlargement. As the prostate enlarges, it places more pressure on the bladder and related structures, leading to various urination-related issues. Some men experience frequent urination, while others find it difficult to pass any urine at all. BPH can also come with additional kidney or bladder complications, such as frequent infection.
What’s the Difference Between Hyperplasia and Hypertrophy?
Benign prostatic hypertrophy and benign prostate hyperplasia are similar conditions. Both terms represent an enlargement of the prostate that leads to urinary tract issues.
Hyperplasia occurs when there’s an increase in the number of prostatic cells but no change in their size. The cells simply multiply so fast that they cause the prostate to expand.
Hypertrophy describes the inverse effect. The prostatic cells increase in size but not in number. The result is the same—the prostate enlarges—the mechanism is just different.
What Are Common Symptoms of Prostatic Hypertrophy?
Symptoms of BPH vary from person to person. They depend, in part, on how much your prostate grows and its impact on your urinary tract. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Frequent urination
- Increased urination at night
- Trouble starting to urinate
- Weak urine stream
- Constant stopping and starting
- Inability to empty the bladder completely
- Straining to urinate
Less common symptoms of BPH include urinary tract infections and urinating blood. If you’re unable to urinate, contact a medical professional immediately, as this could indicate a medical emergency and require urgent treatment.
Does BPH Mean I Have Prostate Cancer?
While BPH and prostate cancer both affect the prostate gland, the conditions are not the same. BPH is benign and will not spread to other parts of your body. Prostate cancer can be malignant and impact other organs.
If you have benign prostatic hyperplasia, it will not increase your likelihood of prostate cancer. Even though the conditions are similar, there’s no link between them. Always contact a medical professional if you show symptoms of BPH or prostate cancer.
How is BPH Diagnosed?
As a rule of thumb, you should begin scheduling regular prostate exams after age 40. BPH becomes increasingly likely with age. A routine exam will allow your doctor to proactively diagnose and treat the condition before it gets out of hand.
While your exam frequency will depend on your health and risk factors, every two years is often sufficient. A prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, digital rectal exams, urine tests, and blood tests may also help evaluate your prostate health.
Can I Prevent BPH?
There’s no definitive way to prevent benign prostatic hypertrophy. Experts believe that there’s a link between BPH and other health complications like diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. However, taking care of your body will minimize your long-term risks. People with a history of BPH or who follow a sedentary lifestyle are more likely to develop prostate complications.
How Do You Treat an Enlarged Prostate?
As every case is different, there is no standardized treatment for an enlarged prostate. The best option for you will depend on your health, age, and how enlarged your prostate has become. If your symptoms are minor, you may prefer to delay the treatment.
Doctors often treat mild to moderate symptoms of BPH with oral medications. For instance, alpha-blockers can effectively relax muscle fibers in the prostate, making it easier for you to urinate. Meanwhile, 5-alpha reductase inhibitors can shrink your prostate. Combination drug therapy provides a multi-pronged approach to address the problem. Many patients have difficulty with side effects from these medications.
Other potential treatment options for BPH include:
- Greenlight laser – A laser is inserted into the urethra and used to remove obstructing prostate tissue.
- Rezūm – Steam is introduced through a catheter inserted into the urethra to destroy obstructing prostate tissue.
- Aquablation® – water pressure is directed to the obstructing prostate tissue via a catheter inserted into the urethra. This procedure often has bleeding complications and overnight hospital stays.
- UroLift® – a procedure for smaller prostates. A scope is advanced through the urethra and small anchors are deployed to lift prostate tissue out of the way. Less traumatic than the others but high rate of recurrence as the prostate grows.
- TURP (Transurethral resection of the prostate) – this procedure uses a metal heating element to remove the obstructing prostate tissue, introduced, again, through the urethra
The common thread for all of these transurethral procedures is that they remove tissue in a traumatic way, either by heat, water pressure, etc. The tissue removed can have important nerves, as a result these procedures have much higher rates of sexual dysfunction compared to PAE.
Prostate Artery Embolization: The Superior Choice in the Treatment of BPH
Prostate Artery Embolization, or PAE, is a minimally invasive in-office procedure that can help improve BPH-caused lower urinary tract symptoms. Through a tiny puncture in the patient’s thigh or wrist, the doctor inserts an ultra-thin catheter and guides it to the prostate artery, where the catheter releases microspheres that reduce blood flow to the prostate. The prostate will begin to shrink, leading to improved symptoms within two weeks.
Safe and effective, PAE does NOT affect sexual performance. You can resume regular sexual activity 24 hours following the procedure. However, you may notice blood in your ejaculate for 7-21 days, which is a normal occurrence. Within 24 hours, you can also go back to strenuous activity and work.
Most PAE patients experience an improvement in their symptoms within two-to-three weeks. Prostate artery embolization enjoys an incredible success rate, with 90 percent of men finding relief after the procedure. The research concludes that PAE offers long-term success in treating an enlarged prostate, with 82 percent of men still enjoying a successful PAE three years after their procedure.
Still Have Questions about BPH? Schedule a Consultation with Prostate Specialists of Miami Today
Interventional Radiologist Dr. Adam S. Gropper is one of the foremost experts on benign prostatic hypertrophy in Florida. He has more than two decades of experience treating men of all ages and health backgrounds, drawing from his engineering training, along with a decade of experience as chief of radiology at Jackson North Hospital. If you have additional questions about benign prostatic hypertrophy, need an exam, or would like to explore treatment options, make an appointment with Prostate Specialists of Miami today at 786-500-5347 or complete our online form.
When you choose Dr. Gropper and Prostate Specialists of Miami for your PAE procedure, you can trust that you’re receiving top medical care that combines state-of-the-art technology with a caring, patient-centric approach.
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