Archive for the ‘Prostatitis’ Category

Urinary Tract Infections in Men

May 4, 2010

Urinary tract infections (UTI) indicate inflammation anywhere within the urinary system.  In men it can occur in the kidneys, bladder, prostate or urethra.  UTIs are more common in women, but they also affect men, especially in men more than 50 years of age.  If UTIs are left untreated, they can result in spread of the infection and cause permanent kidney damage.

Prostate infections are the most common infections in men.  Acute prostatitis occurs when bacteria lodge in the prostate and produce symptoms such as fever, chills, difficulty with urination, back pain, or blood in the urine.  The treatment is antibiotics for 7-10 days.

Chronic bacterial prostatitis is similar to the acute infection but without the fever or chills.  These men also may have painful ejaculation and low back pain.  The treatment is also antibiotics but often the medication has to be taken several weeks or even months.  Men with chronic prostatitis also may be advised to avoid caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods and chocolate.

In many men, prostatitis occurs without identifying any bacterial culprit.  This is called abacterial prostatitis or prostadynia.  The symptoms are the same a chronic bacterial prostatitis.  The pain and vague urinary problems are a result of spasm or congestion of the pelvic floor muscles or congestion within the prostate gland itself.  In most instances, antibiotics are not helpful in treating this condition.  The treatment consists of anti-inflammatory medication, muscle relaxants or alpha blockers.

UTIs can also occur after instruments are inserted into the urinary tract such as catheters or tubes as they may transport bacteria from outside of the body to the bladder and prostate gland.

Previous infections such as some of the sexually transmitted diseases may leave scars in the urethra and cause it narrow or stricture.  This disrupts the normal flow of urine and may result in infections of the urinary tract.

The diagnosis of a UTI is made with a history, physical examination and a urinalysis and a urine culture.  The latter is a test that identifies the offending bacterial and the best antibiotic to treat the infection.  Occasionally, additional tests such as a CAT scan and cystoscopy are required.

General measures for treating UTIs in men include increasing the consumption of water. Alkaline substances, such as citrates, taken in water might improve symptoms. By making the urine more alkaline, they make the environment more hostile to bacterial growth and improve the results of antibiotic therapy.

Antibiotics are the mainstay of treatment. Trimethoprim (Trimpex) is currently the first choice for lower UTI , because it is cost-effective, well tolerated and works in 80 per cent of infections. Cephalosporins and quinolones are reserved as second line drugs in patients with lower UTI, but are first choices in patients with signs of kidney infection.

You can prevent UTIs by drinking lots of fluids every day, empty your bladder often and completely, practice safe sex, always use latex or polyurethane condoms, urinate after sex to flush out bacteria, if you are uncircumcised, and wash under the foreskin each time you take a bath or shower.

Although UTIs are aggravating and affect the quality of life of those with the condition, they do not cause prostate cancer, benign enlargement of the prostate, or perhaps more importantly, impotence.

Bottom Line: With an accurate diagnosis and the correct treatment, most cases of UTIs in men can be cured, treated or certainly controlled.

Living With Prostate Gland Enlargement-Lifestyle Changes

April 26, 2010

Prostate enlargement or benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH) is a common, non-cancerous condition affecting nearly 14 million men over the age of 50.

The symptoms of prostate gland enlargement include decrease in the force and caliber of the urinary stream, frequency or urination, urgency, feeling of not emptying the bladder and nocturia or the need to get up at night to urinate.

Although lifestyle changes will not cure the problem, they can alleviate some of the symptoms.

Making some lifestyle changes can often help control the symptoms of an enlarged prostate and prevent your condition from worsening. Try these measures:

Remember what goes in must come out.  Therefore don’t drink anything several hours before you go to sleep.  Especially avoid caffeinated beverages such as coffee (also causes insomnia) and tea as the caffeine acts as a diuretic and causes increased urine output that may result in getting up at night to empty your bladder,

Limit your alcohol consumption especially at the dinner meal.  Again alcohol acts as a diuretic causing increased production of urine causing your bladder to fill up sooner than you would like.

Avoid spicy foods.  These appear to irritate the bladder and can result in urinary frequency and nighttime voiding.

Check your medications.  Some medications like lasix and hydrochlorothiazide are diuretics and increase urine production.  I suggest you take those medications early in the day when going to the bathroom to urinate is not such an inconvenience.  You may also speak with your doctor about lowering the dosage of the diuretic especially the evening dose if you are bothered by nighttime urination.

Avoid antihistamines and decongestants as these cause the bladder to decrease the force of contraction and results in the bladder not to empty as well.  If you have to take anti-histamines, use them earlier in the day.

Don’t hold off going to the restroom.  This habit distends the bladder and can result in a weaker muscle to expel the urine from the bladder.

Use the clock to help with urination.  If you find that you are going to the bathroom infrequently and then more at night, make an effort to urinate every 3-4 hours.  Putting your bladder on a schedule is very helpful and a good habit to have.

Go and then go again.  Double voiding is a technique to ensure adequate emptying of the bladder.  If you stand at the toilet and empty your bladder, walk away from the toilet for a minute or two and then return and try emptying the bladder again.  This helps to expel more urine from your bladder than just standing there one time and voiding.

Avoid cold seats such as at football games in the winter.  The cold temperature seems to cause the muscles around the prostate gland to contract and makes urination difficult.  Instead take a blanket or a cushion. Your prostate gland will be glad that you did.

If you bike ride, especially for long distances, stand on the pedals every 10 or 15 minutes to take the pressure off of your prostate gland.  Also consider using a seat that has a groove down the middle which alleviates the pressure on your prostate gland.

Bottom Line: These steps won’t cure the enlarged prostate but they will lessen the symptoms.  If they don’t help, see your doctor for medication one of the treatments that reduces the obstruction of your prostate gland.

Attention Bicycle Riders-Your Seat May Be Affecting Your Sex Life

April 25, 2010

A middle age bike rider, who was perfectly potent, noted that his penis went numb at the end of a two-day, 200 mile charity ride.  The numbness continued for nearly six months and was accompanied by the inability to achieve an erection adequate for sexual intimacy or impotence.  After a work-up revealed arterial damage at the base of the shaft of the penis, his potency returned after treatments that increased the blood supply to his penis.

To understand the relationship between bicycle seats and impotence, you need to know a few things about male anatomy. The penis is a hydraulic system. During sexual stimulation, its twin chambers fill with blood until it’s firm and erect. After stimulation ends or there’s ejaculation, the blood leaves and the penis softens again. The trigger for this increased blood flow is nerve impulses that originate in the brain and race down the spinal cord to the penis.

When you’re riding a bicycle, your weight is being focused on the perineum, the area between the rectum and the scrotum, and that’s where the arteries and nerves that feed the penis are located. Since the arteries are essentially unprotected, they’re prone to damage from constant  pressure from the bike seat.   When a man sits on a bicycle seat he’s putting his entire body weight on the artery that supplies the penis.

There are a number of things you can do to protect your potency:

• Penile numbness and excessive genital shrinkage are warning signs that there may be too much pressure on your perineum. The nerves in the perineum are being pinched, which means the artery that feeds the penis is also being compressed.

• Make the following changes in your riding style and/or your positioning on the bike: 1) Make sure your saddle is level, or point the nose a few degrees downward. 2) Check to see that your legs are not fully extended at the bottom of the pedal stroke. Your knees should be slightly bent to support more of your weight. 3) Stand up every 10 minutes or so to encourage blood flow.

• There are a multitude of anatomic racing saddles on the market, ranging from ones with a flexible nose to models with a hole in the middle. You may want to experiment with a wider, more heavily padded brand or a “double bun seat” that places the weight on the bones and off of the perineum.

• Heavier riders may be more at risk of arterial compression damage because of the greater weight that’s placed on the perineum. If you’re in this category, you should consider a wider saddle with extra padding.

• When riding a stationary bike, the tendency is to stay seated and grind against big gears for long periods. Get off of the seat as frequently as you would on your regular bike and be certain that it’s set up the same in regards to riding position.

•  Get off of the seat when riding over rough or irregular terrain. Use your legs as shock absorbers.

Most men are not aware of the relationship between their bike and their erections. My final advice for good health is that men shouldn’t necessarily ride farther but ride a lot smarter.

When Your Urine Turns Red

April 13, 2010

Most men have an ejaculate (the fluid that contains the sperm) that is white and slightly cloudy.  When it turns red, it is a frightening occurrence.  Hematospermia, or blood in the ejaculate, is a symptom that provokes great anxiety in patients due to fears of malignancy or sexually transmitted diseases. For most men, hematospermia is not a serious, life-threatening condition.

One could think of blood in the semen in almost the same way one would think of blood in nasal mucus when one has a bad cold or sinus infection. It certainly is a sign of problems, but it’s nothing to panic about. Seeking a medical opinion is highly recommended in any instance.

Most men with hematospermia usually report brownish to red discoloration of the ejaculate. More than 90% of patients have no prior genitourinary symptoms or significant factors in their history. The ages range from 14 to 75, with an average age in the late 30’s. It is not uncommon, however, for it to affect men between the ages of 30 and 40. About 90% of men who have had hematospermia will have repeated episodes.

The cause is not specifically known and is poorly understood. Most commonly, it results from nonspecific inflammation of the urethra, prostate and/or seminal vesicles.

In about 50% of patients the cause of hematospermia is not clearly understood or known. Semen originates from multiple organs, including the testicles, epididymis, vas deferens, seminal vesicles, and prostate. Most of the semen comes from the seminal vesicles and prostate and it is probably from these two organs that most hematospermia cases originate.

Infections or inflammation of the organs listed above account for most of the other causes. Cancers are rarely causative and account for a very small percentage of hemospermic diagnoses.

With the introduction of ultrasound-guided prostate biopsies, we are seeing a large number of patients — about a third of the patients who received the test — with hematospermia after the biopsy.

Patients with hematospermia are usually categorized into one of two groups. The primary hematospermia group is where the patient’s only symptom is blood in the ejaculate. This means that there is no blood in the urine (neither visually nor under a microscope). Also, the patient has no symptoms of urinary irritation or infection and the physical exam is completely unremarkable. Patients who have this type of hematospermia with no other findings are essentially found to have no other problem. The condition is “self-limited”, which means it will go away in time without treatment. About 17% of patients will have one episode and no recurrence.

Secondary hematospermia is when the cause of bleeding is known or suspected, such as immediately after a prostate biopsy, in the presence of a urinary or prostate infection, or cancer. Unusual causes include tuberculosis, parasitic infections and any diseases that affect blood clotting such as hemophilia and chronic liver disease. Patients who have hematospermia associated with symptoms of urinary infection or visual and/or microscopic blood in the urine require a complete urologic evaluation.

Most men with hematospermia are in their 30’s and the problem almost always subsides spontaneously, usually within several weeks. Hematospermia may be associated with infection, but is rarely secondary to malignancy. Patients that have persistent hematospermia for longer than three weeks should undergo further urologic evaluation to identify the specific cause.

The physical exam should include a genital and rectal exam, as well as a blood pressure test. Hypertension can be associated with hematospermia. Some urologists recommend transrectal ultrasounds to look for stones and cysts in the prostate, seminal vesicles and ejaculatory ducts. This may also help rule out prostate cancer.

Other urologists recommend cystoscopy because hematospermia can be secondary to urethral and prostatic pathology. Overall, hematospermia almost always resolves spontaneously and rarely is associated with significant urinary pathology. In a Japanese study, less than 1% of patients had prostate cancer associated with hematospermia.

Hematospermia can be a very frightening occurrence to any male, but in the end, most of these patients are found to have no abnormalities and require no therapy. Hematospermia is prone to continue on and off, but it is usually self-limited and carries no increased risk of any other disease, nor is the patient felt to be putting his sexual partner at risk. To reiterate; malignant cancers of the testicles and prostate are very rarely associated with hematospermia.

Bottom line-hematospermia is a frightening condition that suggests a mild inflammation of either the prostate gland or seminal vesicles.  No treatment or use of medication will result in return of the semen to its normal color.  If you have this condition, check with your doctor or your urologist.