Understanding the Importance of your Prostate
Many men do not understand what their prostate does and how it can impact their lives. The prostate is a small gland that is about the size and shape of a walnut that is located below the neck of the bladder. The urethra runs through the center of your prostate, from the bladder through the penis, letting urine flow out of the body.
Your prostate is a male reproductive organ. The main function of your prostate is to produce prostatic fluid. The prostatic fluid is an alkaline fluid secreted by the prostate gland during ejaculation that forms part of the semen.
Your prostate can become larger as you age, and usually begins to grow around the age of 40-50, this is a normal part of aging. Eventually, this growth can lead to Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia, better known as BPH.
What is BPH?
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia, or BPH, is a condition in which the prostate enlarges as men get older. BPH is a very common condition that affects nearly 40 million Americans and over 500 million aging men worldwide. Over 40% of men in their 50s and over 70% of men in their 60s have BPH1. While BPH is a benign condition and unrelated to prostate cancer, it can greatly affect a man’s quality of life.
As the prostate enlarges, it presses on and blocks the urethra, causing bothersome urinary symptoms such as:
Frequent need to urinate both day and night
Weak or slow urinary stream
A sense that you cannot completely empty your bladder
Difficulty or delay in starting urination
Urgent feeling of needing to urinate
A urinary stream that stops and starts
If you suffer from the above symptoms, you are not alone. BPH is the leading reason men visit a urologist.
Treatment Options for BPH
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is an enlarged prostate. The prostate grows throughout a man’s life. As you age, your prostate may get larger.
As the prostate enlarges, it can create pressure on the urethra. The bladder wall becomes thicker. Eventually, the bladder may weaken and lose the ability to empty completely, leaving some urine in the bladder. The narrowing of the urethra and urinary retention–the inability to empty the bladder completely–cause many of the problems associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia. BPH is benign. This means it is not cancer. It does not cause nor lead to cancer. But BPH and cancer can happen at the same time.
When symptoms are mild or non-bothersome, your doctor may just monitor your condition and ask you to track your symptoms before deciding if any treatment is necessary. As your BPH condition progresses, if left untreated, it can lead to permanent bladder damage.3
There is no pharmacological cure for BPH but your doctor may prescribe medications to manage your symptoms. These medications include alpha blockers which relax the muscles around the neck of your bladder, making it easier to urinate, and alpha reductase inhibitors which act to shrink the prostate. While medications can be helpful in relieving symptoms for some men, patients must continue taking them to maintain the effects.
An issue with prescription medications is that their effectiveness may be inadequate and they may cause dizziness, fatigue, and sexual dysfunction.4 These, along with other side effects, are an unnecessary burden and can make men feel older than their age.
UroLift System Treatment
The UroLift® System is a proven option for patients looking for an alternative to drugs or major surgery. The straightforward UroLift System treatment is often performed in the doctor’s office using tiny implants to hold open the obstructed pathway that’s blocking urine flow, addressing the blockage, not just continuously treating enlarged prostate (BPH) symptoms.
It is the only BPH treatment that does not require ongoing medication, heating, cutting or removal of the prostate tissue. The UroLift System offers a proven treatment with minimal risk of side effects while preserving sexual function5. The goal of the UroLift System treatment is to relieve symptoms so you can get back to your life and resume your daily activities.
Thermotherapies are moderately invasive treatments applying heat energy such as microwave, radiofrequency or steam/water vapor directly to prostate tissue. Less invasive than TURP (see below), these treatments are generally safe, can be performed under local anesthesia and provide moderate symptom relief for some patients. Applying high heat to the prostate can cause tissue swelling and urinary symptoms during the healing period. There is also an incidence of erectile and ejaculatory dysfunction with thermotherapy procedures.4 Patients often need to have a catheter inserted into their bladder during the recovery period.
Prostate laser surgery uses concentrated light to generate precise and intense heat to remove excess tissue that may be preventing urine flow. Laser therapy lessens the bleeding risks of traditional TURP. However, since prostate tissue is still removed, there can be tissue swelling. Typically, a catheter has to be inserted into the bladder after the procedure. The most prevalent laser procedures are called photoselective vaporization of the prostate (PVP) or holmium laser enucleation (HOLEP). Despite improvement in urinary flow, PVP clinical data demonstrates the potential for a 42% incidence of ejaculatory dysfunction.4
During the Transurethral Resection of the Prostate (TURP) procedure, patients undergo general anesthesia, and prostate tissue is removed. After prostate tissue has been removed, patients may have a recovery period that includes short-term problems such as bleeding, infection, erectile dysfunction, and urinary incontinence.4 Patients will require a catheter that is inserted into their bladder for several days after the procedure. Symptom relief may not occur immediately, but for some patients it provides the most symptom relief of any procedure and lasts a long time. There can be long-term side effects after TURP such as dry orgasm (retrograde ejaculation), erectile dysfunction or incontinence (leaking of urine).4