When a man reaches the age of 25, the prostate gland starts to grow, a normal development phase known as benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH).
BPH is a benign condition that doesn’t lead to cancer, although the two can coexist.
Around 50% of men with BPH may never develop any symptoms, but others find that the condition can affect their quality of life. The symptoms of BPH include:
- Frequent urination, especially at night
- An interrupted, weak urine stream
- Even after you go, there is a sensation that the bladder isn’t empty
- Difficulty starting to pee
- Pee dribbles out after urinating
- Urinating accidentally
Consequently, men may seek treatment to improve their condition. This may include prostate artery embolization (PAE). This minimally invasive no-scalpel procedure is performed through a small artery in the wrist or groin. A catheter is guided to the blood vessels that supply blood to the prostate. Once in place, microscopic beads are injected into the catheter and the blood vessels. This causes the gland to shrink, alleviating symptoms.
In addition to treatments, there are some things men can do on their own to manage symptoms and live more comfortably with BPH.
Some men who are nervous or tense often need to visit the bathroom more frequently. Reduce stress and tension with yoga, meditation or a regular exercise regimen. This can help reduce the need to urinate as often and is supported by studies. Researchers from the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine analyzed the data from 11 studies involving more than 43,000 men. They discovered that increased physical activity could reduce the risk for BPH.
The sorts of exercises you can try include walking, jogging, running, rowing, jumping rope and playing tennis. Start slowly and gently if you haven´t exercised for a while and are a little out of shape. Don´t engage in intense bouts of physical activity.
- Don’t drink before bed
Beverages with caffeine and alcohol are diuretics that increase urine production. Therefore, if nighttime urination is an issue, stop drinking fluids at least 2-3 hours before you go to bed.
- Empty your bladder fully
When you go to the bathroom, try your best to empty your bladder completely. This will reduce the need for subsequent trips.
- Kegel exercises
A good way to control some BPH symptoms such as dribbling is with Kegel exercises. These can strengthen the pelvic muscles around the bladder and penis. You may have heard of Kegel exercises for women, especially after they´ve just given birth. These simple and discreet forms of muscle workouts can also benefit men.
To perform Kegel exercises, you must first locate your pelvic floor muscles, which control the urine stream. To find them, stop and start your urine stream when you stand at the toilet to urinate. The muscles you use to stop the flow are your pelvic floor muscles. Once you´ve found your pelvic floor muscles, you can exercise them by following these steps:
- Tighten and hold the muscles for five seconds.
- Then relax them. That´s all there is to it. You have just done one Kegel exercise.
Plan to do 10 to 20 of these exercises around three times a day. Another way to tighten/strengthen your pelvic floor muscles is to:
- Squeeze the muscles around the anus (as you would if you were holding in a bowel movement).
- After each attempt, relax your pelvic floor muscles.
- Repeat this Kegel exercise 10 to 20 times.
When you perform Kegel exercises, don´t hold your breath or tighten the muscles in your stomach or thighs.
One of the great things about these exercises is you can perform them when you want wherever you happen to be. They are so discreet that no one will know you are doing them. You can perform them while watching TV, standing in a supermarket queue or reading. The more you do, the stronger your pelvic floor muscles will become.
- Make healthy food choices
As with many health conditions, you can improve or minimize symptoms with healthy food choices. A diet that promotes prostate health includes vegetables, fruits, beans, seeds, nuts, whole grains, and fish that contain omega-3 fatty acids (i.e., tuna and salmon).
- Adjust medication
Talk to your doctor about any prescription or over-the-counter medications you are taking. Some may be contributing to your urination problems. Your doctor may be able to adjust the dosage or your schedule for taking them to cause fewer urinary issues. They may even prescribe different medications or different brands of drugs.
- Don’t ignore the symptoms
If you are experiencing any BPH symptoms, you should arrange an appointment with your doctor, who may refer you to a urologist. Don´t ignore the symptoms. Left untreated, BPH will cause the symptoms to worsen and may lead to infection and bladder damage.
Other strategies to relive BPH symptoms include:
- Limiting the intake of spicy foods, salty foods, fatty foods and meals that have a high sodium content
- Working with a doctor to train the bladder to hold more urine for longer
- Eating more fiber. This helps prevent constipation which can worsen BPH symptoms
- Maintaining a healthy weight
If lifestyle changes cannot relieve symptoms, a doctor may recommend a minimally invasive procedure such as prostate artery embolization.
At the Midwest Institute for Non-surgical Therapy, we specialize in performing PAE on-site on an outpatient basis.
To find out more information, including whether you´re a suitable candidate for PAE, please get in touch with us to schedule a consultation at one of our 5 clinics, including the latest addition in Chicago, IL.