Prostate enlargement affects million of American men over age 50 who have symptoms of frequency and urgency of urination, poor force and caliber of the urine stream and getting up multiple times a night to go to the restroom to urinate. The enlarged prostate gland can impact a man’s quality of life. Nearly all men can achieve relief from this common medical problem.
There are several effective treatments for prostate gland enlargement. In deciding the best option for you, you and your doctor will consider your particular symptoms, the size of your prostate, other health problems you may have and your preferences. Your choices may also depend on what treatments are available in your area. Treatments for prostate gland enlargement include medications, lifestyle changes and surgery.
Medications are the most common treatment for moderate symptoms of prostate enlargement. Medications used to relieve symptoms of enlarged prostate include:
Alpha blockers. These medications relax bladder neck muscles and muscle fibers in the prostate itself and make it easier to urinate. These medications include terazosin, doxazosin (Cardura), tamsulosin (Flomax), alfuzosin (Uroxatral) and silodosin (Rapaflo). Alpha blockers work quickly. Within a day or two, you’ll probably have increased urinary flow and need to urinate less often. These may cause a harmless condition called retrograde ejaculation — semen going back into the bladder rather than out the tip of the penis.
5 alpha reductase inhibitors. These medications shrink your prostate by preventing hormonal changes that cause prostate growth. They include finasteride (Proscar) and dutasteride (Avodart). They generally work best for very enlarged prostates. It may be several weeks or even months before you notice improvement. While you’re taking them, these medications may cause sexual side effects including impotence (erectile dysfunction), decreased sexual desire or retrograde ejaculation.
Combination drug therapy. Taking an alpha blocker and a 5 alpha reductase inhibitor at the same time is generally more effective than taking just one or the other by itself.
Tadalafil (Cialis). This medication, from a class of drugs called phosphodiesterase inhibitors, is often used to treat impotence (erectile dysfunction). It also can be used as a treatment for prostate enlargement. Tadalafil can’t be used in combination with alpha blockers. It also can’t be taken with medications called nitrates, such as nitroglycerin.
Laser surgeries use high-energy lasers to destroy or remove overgrown prostate tissue. Laser surgeries generally relieve symptoms right away and have a lower risk of side effects than older surgical procedures such as the TURP or transurethral resection of the prostate that require 3-4 days of hospitalization and requires a catheter for several days after the procedure. Some laser surgeries can be used in men who shouldn’t have other prostate procedures because they take blood-thinning medications.
The laser used in my practice is the green light laser (GLL). It is performed in the hospital or a one-day surgery center. Men go home after the 30 minute procedure with a catheter which is usually removed the day after the procedure.
Less than 1% of patient will experience erectile dysfunction after the procedure, and 1/3 of the patients have retrograde ejaculation after the procedure. Some of the common side effects include mild burning with urination. Although incontinence can occur with this procedure, it is very uncommon, especially when it is performed by an experienced urologist.
For more information on managing the enlarged prostate gland with the green light laser, please view my video on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4Qh_mStsUw