Understanding the Risks Associated with an Enlarged Prostate
An enlarged prostate, also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), is a common condition that affects many men over the age of 50. It occurs when the prostate gland becomes larger and starts to obstruct the flow of urine from the bladder. While BPH is not cancerous or life-threatening, it can cause serious health problems if left untreated. Here are some risks associated with an enlarged prostate:
1. Urinary retention – When the prostate gland becomes too large, it may block the urethra, making it difficult for urine to pass through. This can lead to urinary retention, which means you cannot completely empty your bladder. If this happens frequently, it can increase your risk of developing kidney infections and other urinary tract disorders.
2. Incontinence – An enlarged prostate can also cause stress incontinence, which means you leak urine when you cough, laugh, sneeze, or do other physical activities that put pressure on your abdomen. Over time, this can lead to social isolation, depression, and decreased quality of life.
3. Kidney damage – If urinary retention persists, it can cause backflow of urine into the kidneys, leading to acute renal failure and chronic kidney disease. Chronic kidney disease can eventually require dialysis or transplantation.
4. Sexual dysfunction – An enlarged prostate can also interfere with sexual function by reducing blood flow to the penis during erection. This can result in reduced libido, difficulty achieving orgasm, and erectile dysfunction.
Treatment options for enlarged prostate include medications such as alpha-blockers and 5-alpha reductase inhibitors, surgical procedures like transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) and laser therapy, and minimally invasive treatments like UroLift and Prolieve. The best treatment option depends on factors such as patient age, medical history, and severity of symptoms. Itâ€™s important to talk to your doctor about all available treatment options so you can make an informed decision about what works best for you.