When I read the recent post about middle-aged men’s health, I had a realization: I’m quickly approaching that age. Soon, I’ll need to worry about prostate health, including things like benign prostatic hypertrophy, BPH, and all of those other men’s health concerns.
I’ll admit I knew little about what the prostate is and what it does. When a colleague suggested a blog post about BPH and the UroLift® procedure, I knew I needed to do some research to learn as much as possible.
What is the prostate and what does it do?
Dr. Strom explained that the prostate is a gland that is usually around the size of a kiwi. Only men have it, and it surrounds the first part of the urethra – the duct that urine goes through as it leaves the bladder.
“The prostate secretes fluid that nourishes and protects sperm,” Dr. Strom said. “During ejaculation, the prostate squeezes this fluid into the urethra, and it’s expelled with sperm as semen.”
What is benign prostatic hypertrophy?
Benign prostatic hypertrophy, also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia, is an enlargement of the prostate gland, but it is not cancerous, noted Dr. Strom. He said typical symptoms include:
- Weak urine stream
- Difficulty starting to urinate
- Intermittent urine flow, dribbling or an urgency to urinate
- Frequent daytime urination
- Frequent nighttime urination
- Incomplete bladder emptying
“While the age of the patient varies greatly, I’d say most men present for help in their 50s,” said Dr. Strom.
What treatments are available for BPH?
Fortunately, doctors have several treatment options available for guys with BPH. Dr. Strom noted the treatments include medications and surgical options; however, the two primary medications and the main surgical treatments can cause an inability to ejaculate, which is why the Urolift procedure holds so much promise.
“The Urolift procedure is an outpatient, 20-minute procedure that can be done under light anesthesia,” said Dr. Strom. “The patient needs to allow the effects of the anesthesia to wear off for the rest of the day, and then, he can go back to work the next day.”
How does it work? Dr. Strom says 4 to 6 implants are placed in the urethra using a scope to guide them in place. These implants are attached to the wall of the blocking prostate tissue. This holds the prostate back and allows the urine to freely pass through the urethra.
In comparison to the other treatments, it does not hinder a man’s ability to ejaculate. The only side effect is a burning sensation when urinating for a few days after the procedure. Dr. Strom also noted the Urolift procedure still allows for a more invasive procedure, if the man needs it later.
Is the procedure right for every man? Dr. Strom said once prostates reach a certain size, have a large portion of tissue growing into the bladder or have three lobes instead of two, Urolift isn’t an option.
If you are having any symptoms listed above, talk to your doctor.