For many men, getting older can lead to benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH. This is a non-cancerous condition in which the prostate gland becomes enlarged, causing trouble or frequency urinating, and other potential problems.
The prostate gland is part of the male reproductive system that rests below the bladder. Symptoms of BPH can occur because the prostate gets larger and pushes on the bladder and urethra, affecting urine flow and the urge to go.
To find relief, many patients are turning to the UroLift® System, a minimally invasive treatment that is performed in an outpatient setting, says urology specialist Richard Conner, MD, of Tri Valley Urology Medical Group. This procedure can be a good option for men with BPH who do not want to have major surgery and/or want to stop taking medication for their condition, he says. “It has no negative sexual side effects, no risk of incontinence, and a quick recovery,” he says.
How does UroLift work?
With UroLift, small surgical clips and sutures are permanently implanted to push the prostate lobes aside and open up the urethra, Dr. Conner explains. “It’s kind of like the sashes that hold open the drapes,” he says. “This is more of a mechanical opening up,” Dr. Conner explains. It does not remove prostate tissue, as with some other treatments. Patients feel a difference almost immediately, and the results tend to improve over the first several months, he says.
The UroLift procedure is done under local or general anesthesia, and patients go home the same day. Along with providing relief of BPH symptoms, it can also potentially help men avoid needing a major surgery later, Dr. Conner says.
A personal decision
Deciding on treatment for BPH is a personal issue. Some men may choose to live with the symptoms, Dr. Conner notes, and for others it can become a serious quality-of-life and health issue. If you think you may have BPH or would like to learn more about possible treatment options, talk with your doctor.
The symptoms and risks of possible BPH
BPH affects about 50 percent of men between the ages of 51 and 60 and up to 90 percent of men older than 80, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Symptoms, per the NIH can include:
- Trouble starting a urine stream or making more than a dribble
- Passing urine often, especially at night
- Feeling that the bladder has not fully emptied
- A strong or sudden urge to pass urine
- Weak or slow urine stream
- Stopping and starting again several times while passing urine
- Pushing or straining to begin passing urine
Though not common, there may be potentially serious complications of BPH, such as urinary tract infections, bladder or kidney damage, bladder stones and others. Men who experience a complete inability to urinate; painful, frequent and urgent need to urinate, with fever and chills; blood in the urine; or great discomfort or pain in the lower abdomen or urinary tract should seek immediate medical care, the NIH says.
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