Roughly 50 percent of men over the age of 50 have an enlarged prostate or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. By the age of 80, nearly 90 percent of men will live with BPH.
An enlarged prostate can clamp down on the urethra and restrict the flow of urine from the bladder. This leads to problems such as:
- frequent urination
- difficulty in voiding
- urinary leakage
- urinary tract infections
- Difficulty starting to go
- Weak urine stream
- Increased need to pee at night
- Inability to empty the bladder completely
There are several treatment options for an enlarged prostate. Men can take alpha-blockers such as terazosin (Hytrin) or tamsulosin (Flomax) to help relax the prostate and bladder muscles.
Men can also take dutasteride (Avodart) or finasteride (Proscar), a different kind of medication for reducing BPH symptoms. These block the hormones that cause the prostate to grow.
Combinations of these two different types of medications may also be recommended. Your doctor might also recommend surgery to remove the extra prostate tissue. One common surgical procedure for BPH is known as transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP).
There are also natural remedies that may work to combat enlarged prostate symptoms. However, the evidence is debatable on whether these treatments actually work. The American Urological Association currently doesn’t recommend any herbal therapy for managing BPH.
The role of diet in the prevention of BPH and in treating its symptoms is continued to be explored.
A recent four-year study in China looked at the effects of diet on BPH symptoms. Researchers found that men with diets high in fruits and vegetables — especially leafy, dark vegetables and tomatoes — had less BPH, less symptoms of BPH, and were less likely to have worsening of their BPH. Researchers believe it’s not just one nutrient, but rather the combinations found in a healthful diet and lifestyle, that are beneficial.
- Physical activity such as walking, jogging, and swimming can help reduce urinary problems by eliminating urine faster.
- When you feel the need to pee, go right away and always try to empty your bladder completely.
- Avoid antihistamines and decongestants. These medicines tighten the muscles around the urethra, making it harder to urinate.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol. Both caffeine and alcohol can irritate the bladder and increase urine production, so try to stay away from them, especially at night.
- Drop some pounds. Eat a healthy diet and try to lose some weight. Obesity makes the symptoms of BPH worse.
- Keep track of your urination patterns and bring the report to your health care provider.
To better keep track of your urination patterns as you implement healthy habits, MyUroflow recommends to download the MenHealth Mobile Uroflowmetry app, which automatically generates a flow curve with voiding parameters such as maximum flow and voided volume when you start urinating. The app also comes with a voiding diary and a graph of your flow patterns over time. You can also share this data with your physician.