The prostate is a gland that is found only in men. Its purpose is to secrete the major component of ejaculatory fluid. The prostate, which continues to grow throughout life, sits directly below the bladder and surrounds the urethra as it exists the bladder.
As a man ages, the prostate enlarges and begins to press on and narrow the opening of the bladder neck and urethra. This occurs gradually over several years. Initially symptoms may be extremely subtle and well tolerated such as urinating frequently, decrease force of urinary stream, and urinating more than twice at night. As the condition progresses the bladder has to work harder to expel urine. This causes the bladder muscle to become thick (hypertrophic). This results in a diminished bladder capacity and decreased elasticity of the bladder wall, causing problems with urinary function.
The symptoms which were tolerable previously advance to greater frequency (more than every 2 hours, difficulty initiating a stream, urgency to urinate, incontinence, retention of urine and complete inability to void the bladder). In medicine, doctors refer to these symptoms as Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms (LUTS). The common, non-cancerous condition of enlargement of the prostate is called benign prostate hyperplasia or BPH.
This condition affects about 40% of men in their 50’s, 60% of men in their 60’s and more than 80% of men in their 80’s. About half of such men develop moderate to severe Low Urinary Tract Symptoms (LUTS), which could interfere with advancing age.
When the prostate initially begins to enlarge, the bladder muscle can usually push urine through the constricted urethra. As the narrowing continues, the bladder muscle could become thicker or weaken. This would increase urgency to urinate or strain to empty the bladder.
Men with LUTS and BPH also have been found to be at greater risk for Erectile Dysfunction (ED). The connection between LUTS, BPH and ED is not entirely clear. If you are experiencing LUTS or ED, please contact your health care provider.
If left untreated, an enlarged prostate can cause permanent urinary problems. While it may be a natural part of the aging process, that doesn’t mean you have to live with it. There are effective options for treatment.
BPH Symptom Score Index – How severe are your enlarged prostate symptoms?
In assessing your symptoms our office uses the BPH symptom score index also known as the American Urological Association Score. The purpose of the test is to determine how bothersome the enlargement of the prostate is.
Prostate health can affect your lifestyle
Many men affected by an enlarged prostate report lifestyle changes such as avoiding travel, interrupted leisure activities, and embarrassment about using urinals. Frequent nighttime trips to the bathroom can disrupt sleep for both enlarged prostate sufferers and their partners as well.