What Causes BPH and Is It Curable?
So you have been experiencing bothersome urinary symptoms and think you might be suffering from BPH? It’s very possible. Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) is a common condition that affects approximately 50% of men aged over 50, and about 90% of men aged over 80.
Nonetheless, if you are in these age brackets, do not panic. Although the numbers are alarming, only about 10% of men have symptoms that require medical attention.
What is Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)?
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is a noncancerous increase in size of the prostate gland. It is not caused by inflammation (prostatitis) or a cancerous growth (prostate cancer).
The prostate gland is right below the bladder and surrounds the urethra, the duct that drains urine from the bladder out of the body. The prostate is a part of the man’s reproductive system, and its main function is to release seminal fluid that “protects” sperm during ejaculation. The average prostate gland is about the size of a walnut, however, as men get older, the prostate tends to enlarge. For some men, the prostate becomes big enough to press on the urethra, causing urinary problems or even blockage.
Although symptoms caused by BPH can be quite bothersome, in most cases, the condition in itself is not life threatening. Nevertheless, persisting symptoms should not be ignored. If left untreated, BPH can cause repeated urinary tract infections, bladder stones, bladder and/or kidney damage, and, in severe cases, acute urinary retention (sudden inability to pass urine).
Symptoms of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia
An enlarged prostate will cause pressure on the urethra, making it harder for urine to be expelled. This results in symptoms such as:
- A weak or broken urine stream
- Difficulty starting to urinate
- Dribbling of urine
- Inability to fully empty the bladder
- Urinary tract infections
Over time, the bladder muscles become weakened from having to work harder to expel urine. This results in further symptoms, such as:
- Frequent need to urinate
- Nocturia (increased need to urinate at night)
- Urinary urgency (sudden urge to urinate)
- Urinary incontinence
Causes of BPH
Although we now know that BPH is an age related condition, researchers have not yet found the cause of benign prostatic hyperplasia.
Most researchers believe that the condition of an enlarged prostate is mainly caused by the hormonal imbalance that occurs in the man’s body as it ages. However, researchers cannot agree on which hormone is to blame. One theory suggests that, with age, testosterone levels decrease in the man’s body, while estrogen levels (a female hormone that is also produced in small quantities by the man’s body) stay the same; thus resulting in prostate cells to grow. A different theory suggests that DHT (another male hormone) could be the cause.
Although the exact causes of BPH are still unknown, we do know that some factors may increase your chances of developing benign prostatic hyperplasia.
You have a higher risk of developing BPH if you have a family history of BPH or other prostate related issues, or if you suffer from one or more of the following conditions:
- Heart or circulatory disease
- Erectile dysfunction
A Cure to BPH
Unfortunately, BPH cannot be cured or prevented. However, many treatments are available to help lessen the symptoms of the condition.
A large portion of men suffering from BPH, will be able to reduce their symptoms by simply making a few lifestyle changes such as reducing their caffeine and alcohol intake or doing pelvic floor exercises to strengthen their pelvic muscles. However, in other cases, medical treatment will be required.
Many men opt for minimally invasive treatments such as the Rezūm water vapour therapy to reduce the urinary symptoms caused by BPH.
If you are experiencing urinary symptoms caused by benign prostatic hyperplasia, do not wait to meet with our doctor.
He will assess your individual condition and measure the severity of your symptoms in order to recommend the right treatment for you.