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Enlarged Prostate And Sex – Understanding The Impact Of BPH On Sexual Health

An enlarged prostate, medically known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), is a common condition among aging men. While it is a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate gland, its effects can ripple through various aspects of life, including sexual health. Understanding the relationship between an enlarged prostate and sex is crucial for managing the condition and maintaining a fulfilling intimate life. So, let’s get started.

What is an enlarged prostate?

The prostate gland, about the size of a walnut, resides beneath the bladder and in front of the rectum. It serves a vital function in the male reproductive system, producing seminal fluid essential for nourishing and transporting sperm. With aging, the prostate commonly grows larger. For certain individuals, this enlargement can result in benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), which manifests with urinary symptoms including frequent urination, trouble initiating urination, diminished urine flow, and the sensation of incomplete bladder emptying.

How BPH affects sexual health

We’ve mentioned that an enlarged prostate can present urinary problems. However, it can also lead to sexual problems which vary according to the severity of the condition and factors such as age, anxiety, and genetics.

Common sexual side effects stemming from an enlarged prostate include:

Erectile dysfunction (ED)

One of the primary concerns for men with BPH is erectile dysfunction which typically means a man cannot achieve or maintain an erection. The exact relationship between BPH and ED isn't fully understood, but several factors contribute to this issue. Chronic urinary symptoms can lead to stress and anxiety, which in turn can impair sexual performance. Additionally, some treatments for BPH, particularly surgical options like transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP), can impact erectile function.

While ED can stem from various health issues, such as diabetes, low testosterone, heart disease, or psychological factors, it can also be exacerbated by BPH.

Some medications for treating an enlarged prostate can cause ED. Conversely, some medications used to treat ED can help improve BPH symptoms.

While no medication specifically prescribed for erectile dysfunction (ED) has received approval for treating an enlarged prostate, preliminary studies indicate that men using ED medications may potentially find relief from their prostate symptoms.

Various medications for erectile dysfunction (ED) have demonstrated efficacy in alleviating symptoms of enlarged prostates. These include:

For instance, a study revealed that men who were administered 10 milligrams (mg) of vardenafil twice daily for 8 weeks witnessed substantial enhancements in their prostate symptoms in contrast to those in the placebo group.

Another study discovered that men who took up to 5 mg of tadalafil daily saw notable improvements in both their prostate and ED symptoms.

However, before using ED medication to treat symptoms of an enlarged prostate, consult a doctor. ED medications can have potential side effects that may be unsafe for some men, especially those with a history of:

Ejaculatory problems:

Men with BPH may experience changes in ejaculation. These can include painful ejaculation, reduced ejaculate volume, or even retrograde ejaculation, where semen flows backward into the bladder instead of out through the urethra. Certain medications used to treat BPH, have been linked to ED and ejaculatory problems. As an illustration, finasteride (Proscar), an anti-testosterone medication used for BPH treatment, has been associated with erectile dysfunction in 3.7% of users and diminished libido in 3.3%. However, alpha-blockers such as tamsulosin (Flomax), alfuzosin (Uroxatral), and silodosin (Rapaflo) have demonstrated efficacy in relieving BPH symptoms with a lower likelihood of causing sexual side effects.

Libido and sexual satisfaction:

The discomfort and stress associated with BPH symptoms can decrease sexual desire. Constant trips to the bathroom, disrupted sleep, and anxiety over urinary problems can take a toll on one's libido and overall satisfaction with sexual activity.

Enlarged prostate and sex – Managing the situation

Fortunately, several options can help reduce the severity of BHP symptoms. These include:

Several medications can help manage BPH symptoms without severely impacting sexual function. Alpha-blockers cause the muscles in the prostate and bladder neck to ease urination, while 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors shrink the prostate by blocking the hormone responsible for its growth. Discussing with a healthcare provider can help in choosing a treatment that minimizes sexual side effects.

Simple lifestyle adjustments can alleviate BPH symptoms and improve sexual health. Reducing caffeine and alcohol intake, practicing bladder training exercises, and maintaining a healthy diet can make a significant difference. Regular physical activity also improves overall health, which can positively affect sexual function.

Consulting a sexual health specialist can be beneficial. They can provide strategies to address ED, ejaculatory issues, and libido problems. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and couples counseling can also help in managing the psychological impacts of BPH on intimacy.

Some men find relief through alternative treatments like acupuncture, herbal supplements, and pelvic floor exercises. While these methods may not be universally effective, they offer additional options for those seeking to improve both BPH symptoms and sexual health.

If none of the above help alleviate enlarged prostate symptoms and your situation is getting you down, prostate artery embolization (PAE) may offer a more permanent solution and, for many men,  is a preferred alternative to surgery.

Communication is key

Open and honest communication with your partner about the challenges posed by BPH is vital. Understanding each other’s concerns and working together to find solutions can strengthen your relationship and improve your sexual experience. Additionally, regular check-ups with your healthcare provider ensure that both an enlarged prostate and healthy sex are managed effectively.

Conclusion

Living with an enlarged prostate can be challenging, but it doesn't have to spell the end of a satisfying sexual life. By staying informed, seeking appropriate treatment, and maintaining open communication with your partner and healthcare provider, you can navigate the complexities of BPH and continue to enjoy a healthy and fulfilling intimate relationship.

Should your BHP symptoms require treatment then don’t hesitate to contact the friendly team at MINT Stl, to discuss the possibility of PAE and whether it’s right for you.

 

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