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10 Enlarged Prostate Myths and Facts You Need To Know

Learning that you have benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), commonly known as an enlarged prostate, can come as a shock. It's natural to feel concerned about your diagnosis and have questions you need answers to. For your peace of mind, we’ve separated the myths from the facts surrounding BPH so you’re better prepared and feel more confident about the future. So let’s get started.

10 Enlarged Prostate Myths And Facts You Need To Know

MYTH: HAVING BPH MEANS YOU HAVE CANCER

This is the number one myth that needs to be shut down immediately! The very name benign prostatic hyperplasia indicates that the condition is not cancer nor is it a symptom of cancer. Furthermore, having BPD doesn’t increase your chances of developing prostate cancer. However since BPH and prostate cancer share some similar symptoms, it’s important to visit your doctor if you notice any BPH symptoms.

FACT: BPH IS EXTREMELY COMMON

It’s perfectly normal for the prostate to grow as you age. In fact, BPH is so common that around 50% of men between the ages of 51 to 60 have the disease, and this percentage increases the older you get. The prostate is close to the bladder and wraps around the tube that carries urine from your bladder out through your penis. When this gland gets bigger than usual, it can cause problems like having to urinate more often, difficulty urinating, and not being able to empty your bladder completely.

MYTH: ALL BPH CASES REQUIRE TREATMENT

Just because you have a diagnosis of BPH, it doesn’t mean you will need treatment. Some men with an enlarged prostate don’t have any symptoms, whereas others may have mild or severe symptoms. Unless an urgent need to urinate or difficulty in urinating is significantly impacting your daily life, or you find you’re having to get up several times a night to pee, your doctor is unlikely to suggest medication or treatment.

FACT: AN ENLARGED PROSTATE CAUSES BOTHERSOME SYMPTOMS

It’s true. The symptoms of an enlarged prostate can be really frustrating, especially the urgent need to urinate which can cause sudden pit stops during your commute to work, threaten to interrupt a business meeting, and disrupt your sleep at night. It’s hardly surprising that BHP can lead to embarrassment and anxiety.

MYTH: BPH IS JUST PART OF THE AGING PROCESS

Many men mistakenly think that BPH is a natural part of aging and they’ll just have to live with it. No, you don’t! Even if your BPH symptoms are mild, if they’re bothering you and affecting your quality of life, there are plenty of treatment options available like medications and surgical therapies such as PAE – a minimally invasive outpatient procedure.

FACT: AN ENLARGED PROSTATE CAN CAUSE OTHER SERIOUS ISSUES

For some men, BPH can lead to problems that need treatment. For instance, it might cause a urinary tract infection (UTI) or bladder stones. If not treated, these could lead to more serious issues like kidney or bladder damage. Most men with an enlarged prostate don't experience these complications. However, kidney damage, in particular, can pose a significant health risk if it happens. Timely diagnosis and treatment can help maintain bladder function.

MYTH: THE LARGER YOUR PROSTATE, THE WORSE THE SYMPTOMS

Size doesn't always determine the severity of the problem. Some big prostates cause no trouble, while small ones can cause a lot. Having a large prostate doesn't guarantee issues, and a smaller one doesn't guarantee avoiding treatment. What matters more for BPH symptoms is what's happening inside the prostate, not just its size. When a doctor feels a large prostrate during a rectal exam it doesn't automatically mean there's an obstruction inside.

FACT: OTHER CONDITIONS CAN MIMIC THOSE OF BPH

If you're experiencing urinary problems, don't automatically assume it's BPH. We have encountered several men in their 30s and 40s with a condition known as pelvic floor dysfunction, which can resemble BPH. Symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction include urinary problems, pelvic pain, and sexual difficulties. Therefore, if you're facing issues such as pain in the tip of the penis or the perineal area, or if you're having trouble maintaining erections, it's important to discuss these concerns with your doctor to receive appropriate treatment.

MYTH: BPH AFFECTS SEXUAL FUNCTIONALITY

BPH often goes hand in hand with erectile dysfunction and ejaculatory problems. So, while BPH isn’t directly linked to these problems, some of the treatments for BPH can be. For instance, finasteride (Proscar), a medication prescribed for BPH that reduces testosterone levels, has been associated with erectile dysfunction in 3.7% of users and decreased libido in 3.3%. However, alpha-blockers like tamsulosin (Flomax), alfuzosin (Uroxatral), and silodosin (Rapaflo) can alleviate BPH symptoms with a reduced risk of sexual side effects. Additionally, transurethral resection of the prostate, a surgical procedure commonly employed when medications are ineffective, may also lead to erectile dysfunction in a small percentage of men.

MYTH: NON-SURGICAL TREATMENTS FOR BPH MAY CAUSE INCONTINENCE AND/OR IMPOTENCE

Conventional surgery for an enlarged prostate may regrettably lead to erectile dysfunction or stress incontinence, which involves urine leakage during activities like straining, coughing, or sneezing. These potential complications discourage many men from considering prostate surgery.

However, contemporary minimally invasive treatments such as prostate artery embolization (PAE) pose no increased risk of incontinence or adverse effects on sexual function. This is why an increasing number of men are opting for PAE as their primary treatment option for BPH.

Hopefully, by debunking many of the common enlarged prostate myths and facts we’ve answered some of your immediate concerns.

If your BPH symptoms are getting you down, PAE could be an ideal solution.

Want to know more about PAE?

Prostatic Artery Embolization (PAE) is a minimally invasive procedure aimed at improving lower urinary tract symptoms caused by BPH whilst minimizing the risk of sexual side effects associated with surgery.

It’s performed as an outpatient procedure with most patients able to return home the same day.

If you’d like to learn more about PAE and whether it’s suitable for you, why not schedule a consultation the MINT office of your choice with one of our board-certified vascular and Interventional Radiologists?

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