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A man’s prostate grows continuously throughout his life. For some men, this natural growth is not a problem; however, 33 percent of men over the age of 60 experience the short- and long-term effects of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)—non-cancerous prostate enlargement.
“Think of your prostate like a balloon in your lower abdomen—when it’s deflated, it doesn’t take up much space but, as it expands, it makes room for itself by forcing other organs out of the way, which may stop them from functioning properly,” said Thomas Mueller, M.D., a urologist at Inspira Medical Center Elmer.
For example, the bladder is susceptible to complications from an enlarged prostate due to BPH. When enlarged, the prostate pushes up against the bladder and inhibits it from draining properly. This suppression can cause a myriad of bladder disorders ranging from chronic urinary retention and urinary tract infections to severe bladder and kidney damage.
“We don’t know what causes BPH, but we do know that any symptoms you have now will worsen concurrently with your prostate’s natural growth over time,” said Dr. Mueller.
Common symptoms of BPH include:
- Frequent urination
- Difficulty or inability to urinate
- Weak urine stream
- Frequent urination at night
- Blood in urine
Diagnosing and Treating Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia
Diagnosing BPH is a three-pronged approach that includes reviewing your personal and family medical history, conducting a physical exam and undergoing a few diagnostic tests—like a blood test, urinalysis and ultrasound—to understand what’s going on underneath the surface.
“Your genetic makeup, symptom presentation and tissue samples are the three elements we need to create the treatment plan that works best for your condition and lifestyle,” said Dr. Mueller.
While mild cases of BPH may not require medical treatment, more severe cases involve a combination of approaches such as consistent monitoring, prescription drugs, minimally invasive surgery and targeted therapies like transurethral resection of the prostate—removal of prostate tissue through the urethra.
Additionally, there is a new treatment option available for men with BPH: aquablation therapy. “Aquablation is a real-time robotic procedure done under general anesthesia,” said Dr. Mueller. “We use an ultrasound of the prostate to map out where the tissue removal will happen and perform the resection using robotic technology.”
BPH does not have to dictate your day-to-day life. Finding relief starts with talking to your primary care provider or urologist. “Being proactive about BPH symptoms is essential to catching your condition at a more treatable stage. The sooner you receive treatment, the sooner you can return to a higher quality of life” said Dr. Mueller.