Getting Help for BPH (Enlarged Prostate)
Your doctor has just given you a diagnosis of benign prostatic hyperplasia—BPH for short—and you’re wondering, Now what? Perhaps your doctor mentioned that more than 6 million men older than 50 in the United States alone have BPH, so you’re not alone in getting help for BPH symptoms. Even though you have lots of company, you likely still have many questions about what you should do now that you know the reason for the urinary symptoms you have been experiencing.
First, it is important for you to know that BPH is a noncancerous (benign) condition and that having BPH does not increase your risk of developing prostate cancer. More good news is that for the majority of men with BPH, the only treatment required is active surveillance—medical monitoring by a healthcare provider once a year to see if the condition gets worse. Only 10 percent of men who develop BPH require medical or surgical intervention to treat their symptoms.
Second, there are steps you can take to minimize and eliminate your symptoms and get help for BPH. If you are in the active surveillance stage and your urinary tract symptoms are mild to moderate and do not require medical attention, there are things you can do to help ensure your BPH will not progress and require treatment. If you are among the 10 percent of men who need treatment, then these steps can also enhance the healing process.
Talk to your doctor(s) and make sure he or she fully explains your current state of prostate health and what to expect in both the short- and long-term. Read and learn as much as you can about prostate health and BPH. The internet has made it easy to stay up to date by receiving notifications whenever studies or articles about prostate health, BPH, and other topics of interest are released to the media. Establish a file as new information is released so you can talk to your doctor(s) about it. Questions to Ask Your Doctor About BPH [PDF]
Just because you have BPH does not mean you should stop doing things that can help prevent it; in fact, right now is the perfect time to take positive action and focus on staying as healthy as possible and to get help for BPH. With that in mind, here are a number of lifestyle and dietary steps you can take right now to promote prostate health. These steps are based on more than 200 studies over 15 years and are part of the foundations of The Prostate Diet and the 6 Pillars of Prostate Health. They provide maximum protection for you and your prostate.
|Maximize fruit and vegetable servings: Fruits and vegetables contain high levels of inflammation-fighting substances such as antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Several studies provide evidence that these foods—which are rich in potent phytonutrients—reduce the risk of developing BPH. (Kristel; Rohrmann; Schwarz) More on fruits and vegetables and prostate health|
|Eat a low-fat diet: Research shows that men who followed a diet low in total fat and red meat had a lower risk of developing BPH. (Kristal) Read more|
|Choose plant protein over animal protein: Plant protein gives you all the nutrients and health benefits needed for maximum prostate health. Diets rich in plant protein have been shown to reduce rates of cancer and prostate disease. Research also suggests that soy isoflavones can help prevent BPH (Ren), and that beans and lentils are associated with a reduced risk of BPH while poultry and eggs are associated with an increased risk. (Bravi)|
|Consume green tea: Green tea contains substances called catechins that travel throughout the body and take up residence in the prostate, where they can modulate the production and actions of hormones and may be useful in the treatment of BPH. (Liao) More on green tea and prostate health|
|Avoid foods and additives that are harmful to prostate health: Some foods, supplements, additives and nutrients are especially harmful to the prostate, including but not limited to meat, calcium, chondroitin, and foods high in sugar.
|Take supplements: Several natural supplements are especially helpful if you have BPH as they can assist in reducing both inflammation and the symptoms associated with this disorder. Supplements that have been proven to be effective in clinical trials include Saw Palmetto, Quercetin, Rye grass pollen,Vitamin D, Zinc, indole-3-carbinol, Beta sistosterol, Pygeum africanum, Stinging Nettle Root, Curcumin and Green tea extract. See also Top Supplements for BPH|
|Hydrate, but limit fluid intake late in the day: Staying hydrated by drinking pure water is essential for prostate health, but you also do not want to keep getting up at night. Do not consume large amounts of fluid at any one time, and do not drink anything after 7 PM.|
|Achieve and maintain a healthy weight: Numerous studies have shown a link between being overweight and having a high risk of BPH. (Moul; Parsons) Excess weight around the waist and hips is especially associated with a greater risk of BPH.|
|Exercise regularly: A recent review of 14 studies that evaluated the impact of exercise on BPH found strong evidence that exercise helps prevent the development of BPH. (Sea) A regular exercise program can also help prevent obesity, which is also a risk factor for BPH. (Parsons)|
|Manage stress: Research shows that stress can worsen symptoms of BPH. (Ullrich) Experts suggest that changes in hormone levels or the involvement of the sympathetic nervous system may explain the association between BPH and stress. Making stress management techniques, such as deep breathing, exercise, and good nutrition, a part of your daily routine may alleviate your symptoms.|
|Experiment with natural therapies: Natural prevention and treatment approaches for BPH and prostate health include biofeedback, herbal remedies, homeopathy, hormone restoration, massage, nutritional supplements, and stress management techniques.|
|Lead a prostate friendly lifestyle: Smoking, sleep patterns, some medications and alcohol all affect your prostate.|
|Maintain hormone balance: Hormones play a role in enlargement of the prostate, thus it is important to try to maintain hormone balance to promote prostate health. More on how hormones can affect your prostate health|
|Maintain a healthy sex life: Sex seems to be healthy for your prostate but can you have too much of a good thing? Read more on how sex can help prostate health|
|Avoid exposure to toxins: Stay away from chemicals and other substances that may increase the risk of developing BPH. An Australian study found that exposure to toxic metals at a non-substantial level increased the risk of BPH. (Fritschi)|
|Cut caffeine intake: Coffee, colas, some energy drinks, tea, and chocolate are likely caffeine sources and can irritate your prostate and worsen BPH symptoms.|
|Cut back on spicy and salty foods: These foods can make BPH symptoms worse.|
|Limit alcohol: A moderate amount of alcohol (1 to 2 drinks daily) is considered safe, but more than a moderate number of drinks can irritate the prostate and symptoms of BPH. More on alcohol and prostate health|
|Avoid use of over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants: These can aggravate BPH symptoms.|
|Don’t hold it: Delaying urination can worsen BPH symptoms and even result in urinary tract infections. When you have to go, go.|
|If you have diabetes, try to keep it under control: High blood sugar levels and obesity, two characteristics of diabetes, are also risk factors for BPH. Therefore, if you have diabetes, keep your blood sugar levels under control.|
|Stay warm: The relationship between lower urinary tract symptoms and cold weather may be related to an increase in activity in the sympathetic nervous system when it is cold, which results in an increase in smooth muscle tone in the prostate and possible worsening of BPH symptoms.|
Become knowledgeable about your treatment options by (1) reading all you can about both conventional and complementary treatments so you can (2) be an informed patient when you talk with your doctor(s) about those options, which include:
- Watchful waiting, which means regular PSA testing and prostate exams as determined by your physician
- Medications, including alpha-blockers, 5-alpha reductase inhibitors, and anticholinergics
- Transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP)
- Photovaporization of the prostate (PVP)
- Transurethral microwave thermotherapy (TUMT)
- High-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU)
- Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), including herbal and nutritional supplements, stress management, and others
- Surgery to remove the prostate (prostatectomy)
You should have copies of all your medical records both for your own knowledge and so you can make copies available for other medical professionals as needed.
- Get copies of all test results, including PSA tests, and any others.
- Keep records of any treatments or procedures you use to relieve BPH symptoms, including alternative therapies
- Keep an up-to-date record of any medications that you take, over-the-counter and prescription, as well as any supplements.
Bravi BF et al. Food groups and risk of benign prostatic hypertrophy. Urology 2006; 67: 73-79
Denis L et al. Diet and its preventive role in prostatic disease. Eur Urol 1999; 35(5-6): 377-87
Fritschi L et al. Occupational risk factors for prostate cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia: a case-control study in Western Australia. Occup Environ Med 2007; 64:60-65 Get help for BPH
Kristal AR et al. Dietary patterns, supplement use, and the risk of symptomatic benign prostatic hyperplasia: results from the prostate cancer prevention trial. Am J Epidemiol 2008 Apr 15; 167(8): 925-34
Liao S. The medicinal action of androgens and green tea epigallocatechin gallate. Hong Kong Med J 2001 Dec; 7(4): 369-74
Moul S, McVary KT. Lower urinary tract symptoms, obesity, and the metabolic syndrome. Curr Opin Urol 2010 Jan; 20(1): 7-12
Parsons JK. Modifiable risk factors for benign prostatic hyperplasia and lower urinary tract symptoms: new approaches to old problems. J Urol 2007 Aug; 178(2): 395-401 Get Help for BPH
Ren GF, Huang YM. Inhibitive effect of soybean isoflavone on prostate hyperplasia in rats. Hunan Yi Ke D Xue Xue Bao 2003 Aug; 28(4): 343-46
Rohrmann S et al. Fruit and vegetable consumption, intake of micronutrients, and benign prostatic hyperplasia in US men. Am J Clin Nutr 2007 Feb; 85(2): 523-29
Schwartz S et al. Lycopene inhibits disease progression in patients with benign prostate hyperplasia. J Nutr 2008 Jan; 138(1): 49-53
Sea J et al. Review of exercise and the risk of benign prostatic hyperplasia. Phys Sportsmed 2009 Dec; 37(4): 75-83 Get Help for BPH
Ullrich PM et al. Physiologic reactivity to a laboratory stress task among men with benign prostatic hyperplasia. Urology 2007; 70:487–91; and Ullrich PM et al. Stress, hostility, and disease parameters of benign prostatic hyperplasia. Psychosomatic Medicine 2005; 67:476–82.