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How Does an Enlarged Prostate Affect Your Life?

If you’re a man, you’ve probably heard a few things about prostate health. But unless you’ve had any unusual symptoms, you may not have thought much about it. You might not even know exactly what the prostate is or what it does.

No problem -- here’s what you need to know: The prostate is a gland in a man’s body that produces sperm-carrying fluid. It’s located around the urethra, which is the tube through which urine passes before leaving your body.

As men get older, it’s very common for the prostate to get bigger, leading to a condition called enlarged prostate, also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH.

If you’re wondering how an enlarged prostate can affect your life, Dr. Cornell has you covered. As a board-certified urologist, he has answers to all of your questions, including these frequently asked queries:   

What causes an enlarged prostate?

We don’t know exactly why prostates tend to get bigger, although we do know that it’s linked to aging. The older you are, the more likely you are to have an enlarged prostate. In fact, among men age 80 and over, at least 9 out of 10 have the problem.

Is enlarged prostate the same as prostate cancer?

No. Although men can develop cancer of the prostate, an enlarged prostate is not a type of cancer or a risk factor for cancer.

Are there any conditions that raise the risk of an enlarged prostate?

Yes. It is more likely to occur in men with a family history of enlarged prostate, as well as those who are obese, have erectile dysfunction, are inactive, or have medical conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, or circulatory diseases.

What happens when the prostate becomes enlarged?

Various symptoms may occur. For example, you might have trouble urinating or fully emptying your bladder, and urine may sometimes drip from your penis. Urinating may be painful or urgent. And sometimes, even when you feel the need to urinate, it may take a little while for the urine to start flowing.

Does an enlarged prostate make a man urinate more often?

Yes, it can. Many men find they can’t get through the night without waking up to urinate twice or more. In some cases, incontinence can develop.

Why does an enlarged prostate affect urination?

Because the prostate is positioned at the neck of the bladder and around the urethra -- which carries urine from the bladder to the tip of the penis -- an enlarged prostate can pinch the urethra and interfere with urination. This, in turn, may cause the bladder to become weaker and less able to empty properly.

How is enlarged prostate diagnosed?

During your office visit, Dr. Cornell performs a physical exam. He may also recommend a urinalysis to check for infection and various tests that check your urine flow rate, how well your bladder empties, and the pressure of your urine stream. And he might suggest you have a blood test.

Should I also have a test for prostate cancer?

That depends on your age, your health history, and your risk factors. Dr. Cornell talks with you about whether he recommends a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test to screen for prostate cancer.

How is enlarged prostate treated?

Sometimes, a few simple lifestyle changes -- such as eliminating liquids before bed, cutting back on caffeine and alcohol, and avoiding certain medications -- can minimize your symptoms if you have mild prostate enlargement. Some men benefit from working with a physical therapist to learn exercises that can strengthen the bladder and pelvic floor muscles.  

How about medications?

Dr. Cornell can prescribe several types of medications for enlarged prostate. If medications don’t help relieve your symptoms, an in-office thermotherapy treatment may be an option.

Can surgery help?

When necessary, Dr. Cornell can perform minimally invasive procedures or specialized surgery to reduce the size of the prostate.

Should I see a doctor if I have any symptoms of an enlarged prostate?

Yes. Dr. Cornell can examine you to determine whether you have an enlarged prostate or any other related condition. He specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the genital and urinary organs. If you’re having trouble urinating or are experiencing any other symptoms, call Dr. Cornell’s office for an appointment or click the button to book it online.

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