An enlarged prostate means the prostate gland has grown
bigger. Prostate enlargement happens to almost all men as they get
older. An enlarged prostate is often called benign prostatic
hyperplasia (BPH) or benign prostatic hypertrophy. It is not
cancer, and it does not raise a man's risk for prostate
The prostate is a small gland in the pelvis that is only found
in men. It is located between the penis and the bladder, and
surrounds the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder
to the penis). The main function of the prostate is to help with
the production of semen. The prostate enlarges gradually after
approximately 50 years of age. By the age of 70, about 8 in 10 men
have an enlarged prostate.
The cause of Prostate Enlargement is unknown, but almost all
experts agree that it is related to changes in hormone levels that
occur in a man's body as a result of aging.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
Symptoms can range from mild to severe. If symptoms become
troublesome or distressing, medicines or surgery may help. If the
prostate becomes enlarged, it can place pressure on the bladder and
urethra. This can cause the following problems;
- Frequency (passing urine more often than normal). Getting up
several times a night is a common symptom and is called
- Poor Emptying. You may have a feeling of not quite emptying
- Poor stream. The flow of urine is weaker, and it takes longer
to empty your bladder.
- Hesitancy. You may have to wait at the toilet for a while
before urine starts to flow.
- Dribbling. Some urine may trickle out and stain underpants soon
after finishing at the toilet.
- Urgency. This means you have to get to the toilet quickly when
you 'need to go'.
- Straining to urinate.
As with all medical condition it is advisable to consult your
Doctor for an accurate diagnosis and treatment. Your Doctor may
examine your prostate to check its size. This is done by your
Doctor placing a gloved finger inside your anus to feel the
prostate from behind. A urine and blood test may be done to check
the function of your kidneys, and to rule out other causes of
passing urine frequently (such as diabetes or a urine infection). A
referral to a bladder specialist (urologist) may be advised if
symptoms are severe, or if complications develop.
If symptoms are mild, no treatment may be required. Symptoms
do not always become worse and they may improve with time. If
symptoms are severe, medication is available to help improve
urination and decrease the size of the prostate gland. If lifestyle
changes and medication do not relieve symptoms, surgery to remove
part of the prostate gland may be an option. Your Doctor can
discuss the procedure and potentiall risks with you.
The following suggestions may help to relieve the symptoms of
- Avoid drinking large amounts of fluid 2 to 3 hours before going
out or going to bed.
However, do not reduce the total amount of fluid that you
would normally drink each day.
- Ensure your bladder is emptied completely. After you have
finished passing urine, go back to the toilet again after a few
minutes to try and pass some more. (This is called double
- Consider reducing or stopping caffeine (found in tea, coffee,
and some cola drinks, etc) and alcohol. These can worsen the
symptoms of frequency, urgency, and nocturia.
- If hesitancy is a problem, try to relax when starting to pass
urine. For example, try deep breathing exercises.
- If urgency is a problem, try some distraction techniques such
as breathing exercises and mental tricks (for example, counting) to
take your mind off the bladder.
- If frequency is a problem, try retraining the bladder to hold
more fluid by 'holding on' for as long as you can each time before
passing urine. Eventually, the bladder may be trained to hold on
for longer each time before you need to go to the toilet.
- Zinc is one of key nutrients for the health of the
prostate gland in men. Some evidence indicates that it may not only
reduce an enlarged prostate but actually relieve symptoms of benign
prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
- Essential fatty acids such as Flaxseed oil may prevent swelling
and inflammation of an enlarged prostate gland.
- Saw Palmetto is thought to be beneficial in the early stages of
BPH and it can reduce swelling and inflammation of the prostrate
- Nettle root contains phytosterols that can relieve the symptoms
of BPH. Nettle root can block the action of growth hormone on
the prostate and assist in restoring normal urine flow.
Ask your Pharmacist for advice.
- Follow the Diet Hints.
- Ask your Pharmacist for suggestions to help stop smoking.
- Avoid stress as much as possible.
- Optimise fluid intake. It is a tempting to restrict fluid
intake to avoid frequent urination, however this is the wrong
approach. Restricting fluids will not allow the bladder to stretch
and muscle tone may be lost.
- Avoid drinking tea, coffee and cola drinks as these contain
caffeine which stimulate the body to release more fluid.
- Have regular exercise. Swimming and walking for half an hour
daily is recommended. See your Doctor for a check-up before
starting an exercise programme.
- Ask your Pharmacist about managing constipation. Constipation
can cause straining which puts extra pressure on the bladder and
prostate. Water, regular exercise and a high fibre diet may help to