Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH): What’s the Big Deal?

Almost all men aged 50 and older have a condition known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), or enlarged prostrate. The prostrate is a male organ that is vital to the male reproductive system, helping produce semen during sexual activity. When the prostrate enlarges, it can irritate the bladder and squeeze the urethra, preventing the bladder from emptying completely and, in severe cases, preventing any elimination at all. It can also worsen other conditions such as erectile dysfunction (ED).

The underlying cause of BPH is not known for certain, but it may be related to the decrease of active testosterone men produce as they age, leading to a higher proportion of estrogen or DHT (dihydrotestosterone).

Lifestyle Changes—A variety of lifestyle changes are recommended to help ease BPH symptoms, including quitting smoking, losing weight, managing stress, doing bladder training exercises, and avoiding fluids in the evening.

Medications—Drugs may be prescribed to relax the pressure in the prostrate (alpha blockers) or to block the hormones that may lead to enlargement (5-alpha reductase inhibitors), such as terazosin finasteride, doxazosin, or dutasteride, or a combination of these. These can lead to sexual side effects. Medications for the treatment of ED—such as vardenafil (Levitra), sildenafil (Viagra), and tadalafil (Cialis)—have also shown some success in improving prostrate symptoms, but these drugs are not approved to treat BPH.

Surgery—In some cases, surgery may be necessary. Several procedure are available to remove some of the prostrate tissue or relieve the pressure: a transurethral resection of the prostrate or TURP; a transurethral incision of the prostrate, or TUIP; or transurethral microwave thermotherapy (TUMT), which uses microwaves to destroy excess prostrate tissue. Additional procedures, some involving balloons and lasers, are still experimental.

Diet—According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, prostrates do better with a vegetarian diet, stating, “Daily meat consumption triples the risk of prostate enlargement. Regular milk consumption doubles the risk and failing to consume vegetables regularly nearly quadruples the risk.” Additional nutritional treatments including dietary changes and the addition of specific supplements are being explored in increasing rates, but more research is needed.

BPH affects the majority of men over the age of 50 and gets worse with age. Left untreated, it can lead to bladder damage and infection (but not cancer). It may also cause kidney damage, so it is important to treat BPH, not just to relieve pain and discomfort, but also to avoid these complications.

In order to effectively prevent, treat, and cure BPH, increased research funding and participation in clinical trials is critical. Meridien Research is currently conducting a medical research study for benign prostatic hyperplasia at our Spring Hill clinic. For more information or to see if you or someone you know may qualify to participate, please contact us today at 352-597-8839 or visit our study pages today.