As men age, they may experience an enlargement of the prostate gland – a condition known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). It’s so common that it’s estimated that 50% of all men aged between 51 and 60 have the condition. That number jumps to 70% of men aged between 61 and 70 and 80% between 71 and 80.
But while BPH carries symptoms like:
- increased frequency of urination
- difficulty in emptying the bladder fully and a
- weaker urine stream,
one of the key questions men of a certain age want to know is, “Does an enlarged prostate affect a man sexually?”
In this post, we’ll answer those concerns. So let’s start by addressing the elephant in the room.
Can BPH really affect your sex life?
In a word, yes. An enlarged prostate can cause issues with sexual function. But to understand the impact of an enlarged prostate on a person’s ability to be intimate, it’s essential to know what happens when the prostate enlarges.
As a man ages, hormonal changes in the body are believed to trigger prostate enlargement. As the prostate grows, it presses against the urethra (the tube responsible for carrying urine from the bladder). Compression can result in the urinary problems listed above.
So, while symptoms of BPH primarily affect urination, an enlarged prostate can also impact sexual function. It does this in three ways, causing:
- A reduction in sexual drive (libido)
- A decrease in sexual satisfaction, and, via BPH-improving medications,
- Erectile dysfunction (ED)
Let’s address each in turn, starting with erectile dysfunction.
Erectile Dysfunction is diagnosed when an erection is not maintained during intercourse for 25% of the time. But while an enlarged prostate is not the direct cause of ED, some of the medications used to treat it are.
Certain medications like Propecia and Proscar, both tradenames for Finasteride, are known to reduce the amount of blood to the penis, therefore limiting the ability to sustain an erection.
Yet, at the same time, certain drugs used to treat ED, like Viagra, Levitra or Cialis, are also known to improve many urinary symptoms associated with an enlarged prostate. So for enlarged prostate sufferers, getting that balance between managing BPH and improving sexual function is often complicated.
But it’s not just the physical factors; psychological factors are also at play. Let’s take a look.
Psychological factors of an enlarged prostate and sexual intimacy
Sometimes the challenges associated with an enlarged prostate, such as frequent urination, can lead to stress, anxiety and reduced sexual desire. These factors can directly impact the ability to be intimate with a partner.
Also, while an enlarged prostate does not impair the ability to ejaculate, some men with BPH experience a condition known as retrograde ejaculation. This is where semen enters the bladder rather than being expelled during sex. While this in itself isn’t harmful, it can cause a decrease in the sensation of reaching orgasm and, therefore, sexual satisfaction.
So does an enlarged prostate affect a man sexually?
Yes, but there are things that you can do to help.
Open and honest dialogue
Be prepared to communicate openly and honestly with your partner about any sexual concerns and challenges you have. Sharing this information can foster both support and understanding, which, in turn, may bring about better sex.
Talk to your doctor
If you are taking medication for BPH that affects sexual function, your doctor may be able to lower the dosage or change the drug altogether. Either way, these actions may be sufficient to minimize any sexual side effects like erectile dysfunction.
Sometimes, simple lifestyle changes can increase libido and positively impact sexual health. Changes like eating a balanced diet, regular exercise, managing stress and avoiding excessive alcohol consumption can all play their part in boosting sexual desire.
In cases where symptoms of BPH persist or worsen, and sexual functionality is affected, your healthcare provider may recommend medical intervention through minimally invasive or non-surgical procedures. Treatments like Prostate Artery Embolization (PAE) can alleviate prostate enlargement problems using the latest chairside treatments while restoring urinary and sexual function.
BPH and sexual dysfunction – The bottom line
While an enlarged prostate can affect a man sexually, the problem doesn’t have to define their sexual performance. Understanding the possible effects and seeking the appropriate assistance can help to manage most of these issues effectively.
Remember, every individual’s experience with an enlarged prostate is unique; therefore, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional for personalized guidance. With proper management, support and open communication, there is no reason why most men with an enlarged prostate cannot go on to enjoy a fulfilling and satisfying sex life.
If you have recently been diagnosed with an enlarged prostate and the symptoms affect your ability to be intimate with a partner, you might want to consider PAE. This ground-breaking outpatient procedure provides a minimally invasive alternative to surgical treatments and is proven to work in most cases.
Want to find out more? Contact the MINT Prostate Centre at 314-255-2204 or book a consultation online. We currently have 5 offices in St Louis, MO and Wentzville, MO and Swansea, IL, Evergreen Park, IL and Chicago, IL.