As men age, the prostate enlarges. Begining at age 30, each passing decade speeds growth, so that by their forties many men experience symptoms of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), and about half of all aging men will experience symptoms severe enough to require some form of treatment.
What is Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia? The prostate is situated around the urethra, where it produces semen for ejaculation. If it grows too large, it constricts the urethra so that urine flow begins to be slow, painful, and increasingly problamatic.
Symptoms For Begnin Prostatic Hyperplasia:
- Difficulty urinating: holding, starting, and producing a strong, uninteruppted stream
- Sensation of not emptying the bladder
- Peeing more at night
- Frequent Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
- Ejaculation Trouble
Many of these symptoms resemble the symptoms for prostate cancer, but BPH is not associated with increased cancer risk. However, it may cause PSA levels (a test used to check for prostate cancer) to come back high. In any case, because of the resemblance, see a doctor for testing and diagnose.
For most men, BPH symptoms interfere with life enough for them to seek treatment. It’s important to know that there’s risks for not treating BPH:
- Severe UTIs that may lead to kidney infections and damage
- Bladder stones created by the salts in urine
Causes aren’t well researched enough to give a precise reason why, but there seems to be several correlating factors if no precise reasons. Heavy beer drinking (a certain compound in hops may increase likelihood), excess amounts of testosterone, and something in western (city) lifestyle all contribute to the development of BPH.
Treatment for BPH
Blocking certain receptors seems to stop prostate enlargement and even reverse the condition, however the medications have side effects that can cause errectile dysfunction and other sexual problems, potentially doing more harm to the quality of life they’re meant to restore.
Other medical treatments include using heat to kill prostate cells, hopefully leading to a decrease in size, or, in the most severe cases, surgery.
Many who only have mild symptoms of BPH seek natural treatments to combat symptoms. Saw Palmetto is the most famous and well researched herbal treatment for prostate symptoms, however not enough studies have been done to say anything concrete, though many happily take it for BPH.
Nettle leaf and pumpkin leaf extracts are also traditional remedies, although again, there is no confirming research. Pygeum bark extract is another often recommended for natural support of prostate health, but there is no medical evidence.
Saw palmetto may increase the likelihood of bleeding and (like everything) should not be mixed with heart medications. Talk to a doctor or pharmacist before taking herbal remedies alongside any medication.
Other natural treatments for BPH include lifestyle changes:
- Try and urinate frequently
- Schedule urination if you are having troubles
- Spread fluid consumption out, and stop two hours before bed
- Avoid caffeine, which can increase the feeling of needing to urinate
- Avoid decongestants and antihistamines, which may worsen symptoms (congestion can be a side effect of medication used to treat BPH)
- Exercise! It’s associated with better BPH symptoms, and lowers your risk for cancer, among other health benefits!
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