The Prostate and the Pill

March 28, 2013

To many people, BPH may sound like the name of a new fuel station chain. But to millions of men, the initials BPH represent a different kind of pain at the pump.

BPH stands for benign prostatic hyperplasia, or enlarged prostate, and to many men, it signals the beginning of a prolonged and often unpleasant medication regime, due to allergies and side effects.

We’re not talking a slight inconvenience for a small number of men here. More than half of American men in their sixties and as many as 90 percent in their seventies have symptoms of enlarged prostate. As the condition worsens, the tissue surrounding the gland restricts its expansion, causing it to press against the urethra and impede urination. Not surprisingly, this results in discomfort and pain, so learning your options beforehand will put you at an advantage of a faster recovery.

Several drugs can treat BPH by relaxing the prostate and bladder muscles, improving urine flow. Other drugs inhibit production of the hormone DHT, which is involved in prostate enlargement.

But a lot of drugs do have known side effects, including lightheadedness, vomiting, swelling and irregular heart beat. For some patients, these side effects can interfere with work, family and daily tasks.

So it is important to know that medications, while common, are not the only course of treatment. Just like you have choices at the fuel station, you do have other options to treat BHP. One of them, transurethral microwave thermotherapy, is a common outpatient treatment during which the excess tissue is burned away using microwave heat applied by a tiny, urethral catheter.

Other services include:

  • Transurethral resection of the prostate: In this procedure, a small electrical loop inserted through the penis cuts away at obstructing tissue while sealing blood vessels.
  • Transurethral vaporization of the prostate: Here, a tiny instrument with an electrode or laser fiber is passed through the urethra and vaporizes the obstructing tissue.
  • Open surgery: In cases when the prostate is very large, a surgical incision will be required to remove obstructing prostate tissue.
  • Holmium Laser Enucleation of Prostate (HoLEP): This newer treatment involves the removal of the entire obstruction using a vaporizing laser, so no incision is required. HoLEP treatment is reserved for larger prostates and is limited in availability, but it is offered as at The Urology Group.

The old line goes that an informed consumer is a better customer. This goes for personal health care as well as for food or gas. By learning today what you may need to know tomorrow, you will be halfway to putting your health care decisions in the rearview mirror.

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