The prostate is a male reproductive gland that is responsible for producing fluid with sperm during ejaculation. The prostate is the gland surrounding the urethra, which is the tube that goes through the penis and out the body. If the prostate is enlarged it means it is larger than its normal size as happens to the majority of older man, however it can occur at any age. Many older men with bladder issues realize they have an enlarged prostate because when it grows, it will press on the urethra causing urination more frequently and other bladder difficulties.
Causes of an Enlarged Prostate
There is no single cause of an enlarged prostate that is known though there are some risk factors. The testicles may play a role in an enlarged prostate as well. The likelihood that a man will have an enlarged prostate continues to rise as he gets older which is why it is more common among older men. Prostate enlargement occurs about 90% in men over 80 and just a small percent in men over 40. There are no risk factors other than age, aside from not having testicles that function normally.
Symptoms of an Enlarged Prostate
There are a variety of symptoms associated with an enlarged prostate including dribbling after urinating, being unable to urinate, not being able to completely empty your bladder, incontinence, straining to urine, needing to urinate more than once in the middle of the night, pain during urination, blood in your urine, slowed or delayed start to urinating, a strong and sudden urge to urinate, or a weak urine stream. These symptoms are often experienced by men who have an enlarged prostate, though you may have an enlarged prostate and experience very few or none at all.
Diagnosing an Enlarged Prostate
Once a physical examination and medical history has been done by your doctor, they will then perform a rectal exam to feel your prostate gland. Additional tests include a urine test, urine culture, pressure flow test, post-void residual urine test, urine flow rate, prostate-specific antigen, and cystoscopy. Any of these tests or a combination of them will be used to diagnose your enlarged prostate and the underlying cause.
Treating an Enlarged Prostate
Your symptoms and the cause of the enlarged prostate will determine what treatment method your doctor chooses for you. Other factors that change your treatment path include your age, symptoms, and medical conditions. Some of the more common treatment options include, medications, lifestyle changes and surgery. Some doctors will put you on “watchful waiting” which means they will test for other medical conditions but if no serious ones are found, you simply get your prostate and other things re-tested on a regular basis after following lifestyle and medication changes.