As most men age, the prostate grows. Enlargement not caused by cancer is known as benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH. The condition can cause several urinary problems as well as impact sexual health.
When the prostate is enlarged, it pushes against urinary structures. This includes the neck of the bladder and the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body. It also transports semen and sperm. As a result, BPH can affect ejaculatory function.
Effects of BPH
An enlarged prostate can affect a man´s ability to urinate in some of the following ways:
- Difficulty starting to urinate
- Inability to urinate
- Frequent urination
- Slow flow
- A feeling that the bladder isn´t quite empty after urination
- Problems starting or stopping urination
- A weak urine stream
Having an enlarged prostate may also cause sexual problems such as:
- Erectile dysfunction
- Decreased libido
- Reduced sexual satisfaction
- Low sperm count
- Retrograde ejaculation
Erectile Dysfunction (ED)
Erectile dysfunction, also known as impotence, is a condition where men cannot maintain a firm enough erection for sexual intercourse. Or it does not last long enough for satisfactory sex. There are several possible causes, such as heart disease, psychological problems and low levels of testosterone, the male sex hormone. Some medications used to treat BPH while improving symptoms of an enlarged prostate can also cause ED. These include ARIs such as Proscar and Avodart.
Libido is the word used to describe a person´s sex drive or appetite for sexual activity. A decreased libido is a potential side effect of BPH medicines called 5-alpha reductase inhibitors (5-ARIs). These therapeutics work by reducing testosterone levels in the blood. This results in a lower sex drive.
Reduced Sexual Satisfaction
BPH can also reduce your overall satisfaction with your sex life. For example, an enlarged prostate can cause pain after ejaculation, which reduces the pleasure you getfrom sex. The pain can be experienced in a variety of different ways.
- A burning sensation while ejaculating or immediately after ejaculation.
- Pain affecting the penis and surrounding area. There may also be a pain in the bladder or rectum and pain while urinating after ejaculating. The pain typically goes away after a few moments, but it can last up to 24 hours for some men.
Low Sperm Count
A low sperm count is defined as when a man has fewer than 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen. This can make it more difficult to conceive naturally, but it´s not impossible. There are various causes, such as a genetic problem, a hormone problem, the testicles becoming overheated, excessive alcohol consumption and some medications.
If you are taking drugs for an enlarged prostate and are trying to conceive with your partner, it´s a good idea to have your sperm count checked if you haven’t managed to conceive after a year. Your doctor will be able to arrange a semen analysis that checks the quantity and quality of your sperm.
Retrograde ejaculation occurs when semen goes into the bladder when you climax rather than exit the body in the normal way. It is one of the side effects encountered by men who elect to have transurethral resection of the prostate (or prostate TURP), a surgical procedure to relieve BPH symptoms.
During this operation, an instrument called a resectoscope is inserted through the tip of the penis into the urethra. This allows the doctor to see and cut away excess prostate tissue. However, according to some studies, the operation can cause retrograde ejaculation in as many as 65% to 75% of men. The reason is because of damage to muscles or nerves around the neck of the bladder (where the urethra connects to the bladder).
Retrograde ejaculation isn’t harmful, and you can still enjoy sex, but it may affect your fertility. If this is a concern for you, speak to your surgeon. You may also want to consider successful minimally invasive procedures such as prostate artery embolization (PAE).
Other TURP complications can include erectile dysfunction, heavy bleeding, urinary tract infection and temporary difficulty urinating.
Prostate Artery Embolization (PAE): An Alternative To TURP
PAE is an effective alternative to TURP that can also help men avoid the use of medications for an enlarged prostate. This minimally invasive treatment has no sexual side effects, such as retrograde ejaculation or erectile dysfunction.
PAE is an outpatient procedure that is a strategic blockage of the blood vessels that feed the prostate gland. A small tube called a catheter is placed into a blood vessel in the groin or wrist and then threaded toward the prostate. Once in place, small particles are injected to restrict blood flow to the gland. Without enough oxygen and nutrients, the extra tissue on the gland shrinks to bring symptom relief.
An enlarged prostate and some medications to treat it can affect a man´s ability to perform in the bedroom. However, you can once again enjoy a healthy sex life with proper treatment.
If you have been diagnosed with BPH and the symptoms affect your sex life and/or quality of life, consider PAE.
At the Midwest Institute for Non-surgical Therapy (MINT), we perform prostate artery embolization on an outpatient basis. If you would like to know more about the popular and successful procedure, please get in touch. Contact us today for more information and to schedule a free consultation at our offices in Missouri and Illinois.
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