What is Enlarged Prostate?
The prostate is a small muscular gland, about the size and shape of a chestnut, which encircles the urethra and is located just below the bladder. It produces roughly 30% of the seminal fluid in the ejaculated semen. Prostate health is a vital part of living a full and healthy life.
Men, especially if they are older, may be troubled by a variety of prostate problems, ranging from relatively benign conditions such as an enlarged prostate (also known as: benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)) to more serious inflammations and prostate cancer. About 50% of men over the age of 60 have an enlarged prostate. Some of these men experience no issues or symptoms at all while about one third are bothered by symptoms. As a man gets older the more likely he will become bothered by symptoms. Symptoms of an enlarged prostate include trouble urinating, frequent need to urinate, difficulty emptying the bladder completely, and weak urine flow.
Symptoms of enlarged prostate can be scary because some of them are the same as those for prostate cancer. But an enlarged prostate is much more common than prostate cancer. And if you have enlarged prostate, you are no more likely than other men to develop prostate cancer. It is important to visit your primary medical provider for proper evaluation.
See figure below for normal prostate vs. enlarged prostate:
What causes an Enlarged Prostate?
Some studies suggest diet, exercise, lifestyle, genetics, etc. may impact the growth and symptoms of an enlarged prostate. However, nobody really knows for sure what exactly causes BPH or why some men have symptoms while others do not.
Treatments and Suggestions for Enlarged Prostate
- Regular manual or device assisted prostate massage: Prostate massage is linked with overall prostate health and for some men can ease symptoms of BPH. Read more on How To Massage the Prostate.
- Regular use of the prostate through ejaculation and orgasm may help with enlargement of the prostate or symptoms associated with BPH.
- Reducing alcohol and caffeine intake may help with frequent urination issues.
- Participate in regular exercise and eat a heart healthy diet.
- Some high blood pressure medication and alpha-blockers can help relax the prostate gland muscles to aid in urination.
- 5-alpha reductase inhibitors can reduce the rate of prostate growth.
- Saw palmetto – an over the counter medication has long been used to treat enlarged prostate.
- Medical Procedures:
- Prostate laser surgery
- Transurethral needle ablation (TUNA), also known as radiofrequency ablation.
- Transurethral microwave therapy (TUMT).
- Transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP).
- Regular prostate examinations from your doctor.
- Communicate with your medical provider about family history of prostate problems and cancer.
*Prostate massage using Aneros device
Prostate cancer and treatments can cause side effects that have an impact on sexual and reproductive functioning. These things can dramatically effect and change a man’s quality of life and intimate relationships both during and post-cancer care treatments. Some of these side effects may include but are limited to:
- Urinary dysfunction
- Bowel dysfunction
- Pelvic pain
- Erectile dysfunction
- Fertility issues
See figure below for illustration of prostate cancer:
Consider the following to help ease the transition from pre to post-cancer care:
- Seek relationship counseling from a licensed and certified sex therapist.
- Attend prostate cancer support groups.
- Expand your definition of sex to include more of a variety of sexual play rather than focusing on penetrative sex and orgasm.
- Introduce new intimacy related products or sex toys in the bedroom to help you find new ways to enjoy sex play with your partner.
- Continue to enhance your sexual knowledge through books, educational videos or community classes.
- Participate in continued care with a primary medical provider.
If penetration is very important to either you or your partner but you are unable to maintain an erection with medications or penis pumps (or due to pain), consider using a prosthetic penis in concurrence with a vibration device for your own genitals (vibrating c-ring, anal plug, or prostate massager). The anus and lower rectum have a multitude of pleasure nerve endings that can be a great source of pleasure for both men and women.