8 tips on managing BPH


Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) also known as an enlarged prostate is the most common cause of prostate enlargement. As a man ages BPH becomes more common with about half of all men between the ages of 51 and 60 developing it and up to 90% of men over age 80 will have it. 

During a man’s lifetime, the prostate has two main growth periods.  The first is when he goes through puberty in which the prostate will double in size.  The second growth period starts around age 25 after which the prostate will begin to grow again.  It is natural for the prostate to grow and this is what is referred to as BPH.  This benign condition does not lead to prostate cancer but the two can coexist. 

There are specific symptoms of BPH a man will have which include:

·      A hesitant, interrupted, weak urine stream

·      Urgency, leaking, or dribbling

·      A sense of incomplete emptying

·      More frequent urination, especially at night

Any man experiencing any of the symptoms should consult with his physician on seeking treatment as there are many ways to deal with BPH.  There are medications to choose from along with effective surgical treatments with few side effects if surgery is necessary.

However, lifestyle changes can be another method of reducing symptoms of BPH.  Before automatically believing the symptoms are due only to BPH, all men should have a yearly prostate exam to rule out the possibility of prostate cancer.  Once it is determined to be a benign enlarged prostate, men can do 7 simple lifestyle changes to manage the symptoms and bring relief of BPH:

1.     Reduce stress - Being tensed up or nervous can cause a man to urinate more frequently.  Regular exercise, practicing yoga or meditation can relive stress that may help reduce the urge to urinate.

2.     Empty the bladder completely - Each time a man urinates, he needs to empty the bladder completely to reduce the need for several trips to the bathroom.  BPH makes a man feel like he needs to urinate frequently so taking the opportunity to use the restroom about every three hours even if he doesn’t feel like he needs to.  Always urinate before leaving the house and before going to bed.  Doubling voiding is another strategy – when it feels like you’re done urinating, wait a few seconds and try again.

3.     Review medications affecting BPH - Sometimes certain prescription or over-the-counter medications may be contributing to the problem.  Decongestant medications, like pseudoephedrine (Sudafed), and antihistamines, like diphenhydramine (Benadryl), can interfere with urination.  Some prescription medications can also aggravate BPH.  Diuretics used for high blood pressure can increase urinary frequency and some antidepressants can decrease urine flow.   A doctor should review all medication checking to see if they can adjust dosages, change the schedule of when medications are taken or prescribe different medication that cause fewer urinary issues.

4.     Drink less fluids before bedtime - Avoid drinking fluids at least 3 hours before bedtime.  Beverages containing caffeine or alcohol are diuretics which stimulate the kidneys to make urine increasing the likelihood of nighttime urination and they can also affect muscle tone of the bladder. 

5.     Practice Kegel exercises - As annoying as urinary frequency is, other symptoms of BPH that are troubling include dribbling, leaking, and feeling a sense of urgency.  One way to control these symptoms is by strengthening the muscles around the bladder neck with Kegel exercises.  Kegels can be done by contracting the muscles that are used to keep from urinating and squeeze tightly for 10 seconds.  Then relax the muscles and repeat about 10 times.  Doing these exercises three to five times a day may improve bladder control. 

6.     Choose healthy foods - To keep the prostate healthy, this must include choosing healthy foods.  Good foods to include should be plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and nuts and seeds.  Another important food substance to be consuming is omega-3 fatty acids found in cold water fish such as tuna, salmon, herring, mackerel, halibut, and sardines. 

7.  Avoid sitting too long – Men with a sedentary job (e.g. driving and office jobs) or sit for long      periods of time, should get up and move around more.  Sitting too long in the same position can actually worsen the condition.  Take plenty of short breaks to stretch legs and to get circulation flowing. 

8.  See a urologist for help with BPH - Any man experiencing symptoms of BPH should always consult with a urologist to get a definitive diagnosis and method of treatment for his condition.  If BPH symptoms are becoming too hard to manage, it’s time to call the doctor.  Waiting too long may increase the need for more invasive measures such as surgery.   BPH does not cause prostate cancer but the symptoms are similar which is another reason to seek the advice of a urologist.