Men's Health Our Health

How to Cope With an Enlarged Prostate

More effective treatments and lifestyle changes often relieve the worst symptoms

When a man reaches age 25, his prostate begins to grow. This natural growth, called benign prostatic hyperplasia, is the most common cause of prostate enlargement. BPH is benign and doesn’t lead to prostate cancer, though the two problems can coexist.

Some 50 percent to 60 percent of men with BPH may never develop symptoms, but for those who do, the condition can affect a man’s quality of life. Symptoms of BPH include:

  • a hesitant, interrupted, weak urine stream
  • urgency, leaking, dribbling
  • a sense of incomplete emptying
  • more frequent urination, especially at night

The good news is that BPH treatments are more effective than ever and with fewer side effects (though there is no cure). But there are some things men with BPH can do on their own. If symptoms are not particularly bothersome, watchful waiting—regular monitoring, but no treatment—may be the best way to proceed. For more challenging symptoms, doctors typically recommend a combination of lifestyle changes and medication. This simple steps are often enough to relieve the worst symptoms and prevent the need for surgery:

  • Men who are nervous and tense have the need to urinate more frequently. Regular exercise and relaxation techniques such as meditation can reduce stress.
  • Empty the bladder completely in the bathroom. This will reduce the need for subsequent trips to the toilet.
  • Some medications—both prescription and over-the-counter—can contribute to BPH. Discuss the problem with your doctor. She may adjust dosages, change your schedule for taking these drugs or switch to medications that cause fewer urinary problems.
  • Avoid drinking fluids in the evening, particularly caffeinated and alcoholic beverages. Both can affect the muscle tone of the bladder, and both stimulate the kidneys to produce urine, causing frequent nighttime urination.
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