The prostate is an important part of the male reproductive system. It is here that fluid is produced and supplied to nourish the sperm in the ejaculate. This small organ that sits just above the rectum and behind the bladder is normally about the size of a walnut. When a man reaches his mid-30s, hormonal changes combine with diet, lifestyle habits, and family genetics to affect the prostate. It is at this time that the organ may begin to enlarge.
Prostate enlargement is an event that may occur over several years, decades even. By the time a man reaches his 50s, he may have diagnosable benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH. This condition describes an enlarged prostate gland that may cause symptoms. The urethra, the tube that travels from the bladder to the penis, travels through the prostate. If the gland enlarges to a point of pressing on the urethra, urine flow may change.
Symptoms related to an enlarged prostate may be treated in several ways. There is no “right” treatment for every man, which is why comprehensive medical care is a must. At UT Urology, men in the Chattanooga area receive a high level of personalized care that looks beyond prostate size to consider all factors related to this condition and how it may be improved.
Determining the Right Level of Care
To fully understand benign prostatic hyperplasia, a urologist will likely perform a digital rectal exam to estimate prostate size. Imaging such as ultrasound may also be performed. However, symptoms are as important as size when it comes to determining the right level of care. Some men may develop symptoms with only mild enlargement, and some may have a very large prostate but no symptoms. Doctors will ask questions about urination and may also order lab tests to screen for prostate cancer and evaluate kidney function.
Treating Benign Prostate Hyperplasia
When there are few symptoms affecting a man’s quality of life and no indication of prostate cancer or kidney or bladder problems, no immediate treatment may be prescribed. Periodic prostate exams may be scheduled more frequently and lifestyle modifications may be recommended. In some instances, non-surgical treatment such as medication or other conservative approach such as Rezūm water vapor therapy.
Prostatic enlargement in which symptoms such as urinary frequency (day and night) and urgency, weak flow, or irregular flow are the norm may require surgical intervention. Even here, several treatment options exist. As often as possible, the most conservative and minimally-invasive technique is selected.
Our priority is to help each of our patients understand their treatment options for BPH. For more information, call our Chattanooga office at (423) 778-5910.