July 01, 2013

Enlarged prostate

Know your treatment options

An enlarged prostate gland

World travel is one of your great pleasures. But in recent months the foreign language phrase book question you've used most often is "Where's the restroom?" At your wife's urging, you finally scheduled a visit with your doctor.

The problem may be due to an enlarged prostate gland — a condition known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). It's a common problem many men face as they age. Treatments are highly variable and depend on your particular symptoms, prostate size, overall health and your preferences. Some men find lifestyle changes along with medications can provide effective relief. Others may be helped by minimally invasive procedures or the long-term solution of surgical removal of the obstructing portion of the prostate gland.

Changes with time

The prostate gland produces most of the fluid that nourishes and transports sperm. It's located just below the bladder and surrounds the urethra, through which urine passes out of the body. After puberty, the prostate is about the size of a walnut. As men age, the gland gradually increases in size.

What causes this noncancerous (benign) prostate growth — which typically occurs in the gland's central area — is uncertain. Some believe it may be related to changes in the balance of sex hormones associated with aging. Your risk of enlarged prostate may be greater if your father or brother had problems.

Symptoms of benign prostate growth generally don't occur until later in life. Overall, more than half of men in their 60s encounter symptoms...