Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) occurs when the prostate, which is ordinarily around the same size as a walnut and weighs about 30 to 50 grams, expands to twice or even three times its regular size.
As the name indicates, BPH is not indicative of serious diseases like cancer or other malignancies, though it can cause some discomforts as will be explained below.
Hyperplasia is the technical term for the nature of the growth itself, which in the case of BPH is caused either by an increased number of cells growing within the prostate, or by a reduction in the number of prostate cells that are dying off.
Another, similar condition is Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy, which shares common facets with BPH, but differs in that the hypertrophic growth is caused by the increased size of the cells themselves rather than a growth in their actual number.
How is BPH Caused?
There is no concrete evidence for any one cause of BPH, but medical sources are agreed that the condition is most likely linked to aging and the impact that the production of testosterone has on older men. Some studies have indicated that the body’s system for working off testosterone slows in middle age and the body’s reaction is to use this extra testosterone for the production of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is associated with prostate growth when it is present in large amounts. Family history and ethnicity should also be taken into account, with men of European ancestry at slightly increased risk of developing the condition, particularly those from southern Europe.
Still other studies have drawn a connection between BPH and lifestyle factors like high cholesterol, excessive weight, poor diet, and immoderate alcohol consumption.
Those with conditions such as diabetes, a lowered immune system, high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, and atherosclerosis should also practice caution and remain vigilant for the development of BPH symptoms.
Symptoms to Watch Out For
The symptoms of BPH are varied and can occur in a range of varieties and combinations. Unfortunately each case of BPH is different and the symptoms can encompass levels from very mild to severe depending on the patient.
Most commonly, BPH will manifest itself with problems during and after urination. This is due to the enlarged prostate pressing down on the urinary tract and inhibiting the urine flow. Patients report needing to urinate more frequently, as well as a feeling that the bladder was not completely emptied on completion. Other symptoms include dribbling, and a decrease in the flow and weakening of the urine stream. Patients may also have to use more effort to begin urinating and then “push” with more force than was previously necessary. In some instances, blood will also appear in the urine, caused by the rupturing of blood vessels and small veins in the bladder as the patient strains.
In more severe cases, complications like urinary tract infections (UTI’s), bladder infections, and bladder stones may develop due to the bladder obstructions caused by BPH.
There is some evidence for a link between erectile dysfunction (ED) and BPH, although the consensus among medical professionals in this area is far from united on the topic. Studies have shown that some treatments for BPH could actually cause erectile dysfunction in the prescribed patient, and there are also some recorded cases where an ED medication has actually aided in reducing BPH.
Testing and Diagnosis
On presentation of symptoms, doctors will perform a thorough physical examination, in addition to consulting the patient of their medical and familial history. The patient’s lifestyle will also be taken into account with issues like mobility and diet being given particular precedence. The physical exam will most likely include a digital rectal examination, the simplest and most effective procedure for detecting abnormalities like BPH in the prostate, as well as in the early detection of prostate cancer.
Doctors will often order a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test to ascertain the level of antigens in the bloodstream, a higher rate of which results from growth in the size of the prostate, though the origin of these increased PSA’s is not always Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia.
Other tests that the doctor might order or carry out in surgery are the “long and strong” test, a precise analysis of the strength and flow of the urine stream; a filling cystometry, a measurement of the time it takes to fill the bladder; and an ultrasound or other imaging test. A cystoscopy, the visual inspection of the prostate through a thin lighted tube inserted into the urethra of the penis, is also used, though less often.
It should be noted that the symptoms of BPH, especially in its early stages, are very often so mild that the condition goes undetected until found during routine physical examinations – a further motivating factor in arranging regular medical check-ups, particularly for men over the age of 35.
Medication – Alpha blockers are often prescribed for men who are undergoing a large amount of discomfort due to BPH. Essentially, these blockers help ease the urine flow by relaxing the bladder and the muscles of the prostate. Unfortunately, the side effects of these drugs can include headaches, nasal congestion, fatigue, and dizziness, and cases of retrograde ejaculation (where semen goes back into the bladder rather than through the urethra) have also been reported. A lowered libido and even erectile dysfunction have also been noted after patients after patients began a course of alpha blockers, though they are reasonably rare.
5-Alpha-Reductbase Inhibitors are another possibility, as they act to reduce the amount of DHT produced and so will, over the course of 5 or 6 months, reduce the size of the prostate by anywhere up to one fifth (20%). Unlike the alpha blockers, they will address the cause of discomfort over this period, but they will not reduce BPH symptoms in the short term. They are also known to reduce libido and sexual performance in some cases.
Surgery – Non-invasive surgeries such as a transurethral balloon dilation or a transurethral needle ablation have been shown to be very effective in the treatment of BPH, as has transurethral microwave thermotherapy. There is also a variety of laser treatments available.
More invasive procedures are the transurethral resection or incision of the prostate, or the transurethral vaporization of the prostate. In some cases the insertion of a stent may be necessary, or more rarely, the removal of the prostate itself.
It is therefore certainly best to try, in so far as possible, to prevent the onset of BPH by avoiding the less healthy lifestyle choices. Ketogenic / Paleo diet and a moderate amount of aerobic exercise (like walking and resistance training) will dramatically reduce the chances of developing BPH, along with improving quality of life overall.
Increasing intake of Ketogenic / Paleo friendly foods that are low in carbs, high in protein and healthy oily fats are great for the prostate and the body as a whole, and the knock on effect is that they elevate mood and the production of disease-fighting enzymes throughout the body. These could range from leafy greens like spinach, to avocados, macadamia nuts, and even grass-fed meats like beef, lamb, and venison. Reducing alcohol consumption and increasing the amount of prostate friendly green tea taken will also limit the chances of developing BPH, as will drinking more water through the day, but limiting intake close to bedtime.
A natural approach to prevention is always a more viable and safer alternative to pharmaceutical drugs or invasive procedures with harmful side effects. So if you suffer from BPH symptoms or would like to prevent them, you deserve to know about the harmful side effects of drugs like Flomax. Click Here to claim YOUR free eBook: The 5 Side Effects of Flomax
I Wish You Good Health,
“7 Non-Cancerous Reasons Your PSA Levels May Be High”. EverydayHealth.com. N.p., 2016. Web. 10 July 2016.
“Alpha-Blockers. Prostate Enlargement Drugs, Side Effects. | Patient”. Patient. N.p., 2016. Web. 10 July 2016.
Kevin C. Zorn, FACS. “What Causes PSA Elevation In The Blood? – What Is Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) Test? Results & Score”. MedicineNet. N.p., 2016. Web. 10 July 2016.
“Symptoms Of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)”. Healthline. N.p., 2016. Web. 10 July 2016.