Enlarged Prostate

Are you going to the bathroom more frequently?

Frequent urination can be a symptom of an enlarged prostate, and many people we speak to want to know—does an enlarged prostate affect a man sexually?

Since we’ve got the questions rolling, here’s another one: how does an enlarged prostate affect erectile dysfunction?

It sounds like we’ve got some ground to cover!

Today, we’re discussing:

  • Enlarged prostate effects on ejaculation
  • Does BPH cause ED?
  • BPH Diagnosis
  • BPH Treatment
  • BPH urinary retention
  • Prostate cancer and BPH.

That might sound heavy, but we’re breaking it down from the beginning.

What is an Enlarged Prostate?

The medical term for an enlarged prostate is benign prostatic hyperplasia, so that’s where BPH comes from, and it happens when a prostate and the tissues around it expand.

We know that the prostate has two main stages of development:

  • During puberty, the prostate grows twice as big
  • The second stage begins around age 25 and goes on for the rest of a person’s life.

How Common Is BPH?

Half of the people diagnosed with BPH are between 51 to 60 years old, but the risk climbs to 90% in men over 80. So BPH in older people is pretty common.

Prostate Cancer and BPH

Thankfully, BPH is benign and doesn’t cause cancer. So if a person gets diagnosed with BPH, they may not require any treatment unless their symptoms affect their life.

But it’s crucial to know that BPH and cancer can happen simultaneously. 

Enlarged Prostate Common Cause

When a prostate gland gets bigger, it may pinch the urethra and thicken the bladder’s walls. 

In this case, the bladder gets weaker and traps urine. As the urethra narrows, urine retention may cause troubling symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia from an overworked bladder.

What Are BPH Symptoms?

Enlarged Prostate Symptoms

BPH becomes more severe due to urinary retention. Commonly, the BPH symptoms include:

  • The urine stream is weak or stops and starts
  • Need to go frequently (8 or more times per day)
  • Urgent need to go
  • Waking up to urinate
  • Pain during urination
  • Urine color or smell is unusual
  • Unusual color or smell in urine 
  • Pain during urination or after ejaculation.  

Symptoms like these are troublesome but may also indicate more serious medical concerns like infections (UTIs), kidney disease, or prostate cancer.

Enlarged Prostate Risk Factors

Some people are at greater risk of developing BPH. Here are risk factors to be aware of:

  • You’re over 40
  • There are enlarged prostate cases in your family history 
  • Obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes increase your risks
  • You don’t get adequate exercise 
  • You already have erectile dysfunction.

How Does an Enlarged Prostate Affect Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction and BPH are different medical conditions, but experiencing both can be a problem.

With ED, a person generally can’t get or maintain an erection. 

ED may result from other serious health problems, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, low testosterone levels, and mental health issues. Still, when a person has BPH, it can make their ED worse.

Another point to consider is drugs used to treat either ED or BPH: 

  • Studies have determined that some medications used to treat enlarged prostates may cause ED.
  • But some ED drugs like vardenafil, sildenafil, or tadalafil have been proven successful in treating BPH cases.
  • In one study, men on twice-daily vardenafil for two months saw significant improvements in their prostate symptoms.

That’s great news, but we always advise people to see a doctor before taking any ED medication to treat an enlarged prostate—this is particularly important for anyone with heart disease or uncontrolled high blood pressure, as some ED drugs are unsafe for them.

BPH Diagnosis

Enlarged Prostate Diagnosis

Any case of benign prostatic hyperplasia should be diagnosed using the following medical criteria:

Medical History

BPH diagnosis must include the person’s medical history, a discussion about any significant surgeries or illnesses, and family history. 

Your healthcare provider should also review your symptoms and lifestyle habits.

Physical Checkup

Your healthcare provider should look for any discharges from the urethra and check for enlargements in the lymph nodes around the groin.

The scrotum should be inspected for swelling by your healthcare provider, and a digital rectal exam may be performed.

Further Testing

A specialist such as a urologist may conduct additional tests like a urinalysis, cystoscopy,  transrectal ultrasound and biopsy, and blood tests.

BPH Treatment

Benign prostatic hyperplasia treatments will vary based on the seriousness of symptoms, how BPH affects a person, and how they would prefer to treat BPH.

Moderate BPH cases can be effectively treated with medications and minimally invasive medical procedures. However, more severe cases may require surgery.

Lifestyle Changes to Help an Enlarged Prostate

If your BPH is mild, treatment may not be necessary unless it interrupts your quality of life.

Sometimes, simple lifestyle changes can improve BPH:

  • Drinking fewer fluids before going out in public or before going to sleep
  • Reducing or avoiding coffee and alcohol
  • Avoiding or monitoring the use of antihistamines, antidepressants, decongestants, and diuretics
  • Exercising the bladder by withholding urination for longer
  • Pelvic floor physiotherapy 
  • Avoiding constipation or treating it.
Lifestyle changes for improving Enlarged Prostate Symptoms

Does an Enlarged Prostate Affect a Man Sexually?

If a case of BPH requires treatment, most people find their symptoms significantly improve.

BPH treatments may have side effects like an increased risk of infection or incontinence. In other cases, patients have experienced bleeding or scarring after treatments.

Some people experience temporary problems with their erections after surgery to treat BPH, although this is rare.

Another rare issue happens when semen enters the bladder instead of being ejaculated through the penis—this is called retrograde ejaculation, and it’s best to tell your healthcare provider about any side effects of a BPH treatment.

At OHN, The Good Things Are Hard

Most cases of BPH in aging men are not preventable, so it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider about any concerns. If you seek a diagnosis or an early treatment of BPH, your symptoms can be minimized.

At OHN, we always provide real solutions to your most common health issues, and we can refer you to our network of highly qualified and experienced urologists. Contact us today!

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Prostate enlargement (benign prostatic hyperplasia) (2014) National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/prostate-problems/prostate-enlargement-benign-prostatic-hyperplasia (Accessed: October 10, 2022).

Robinsom, K.M. (2014) Managing sexual concerns if you have BPH, WebMD. WebMD. Available at: https://www.webmd.com/men/prostate-enlargement-bph/features/managing-sexual-concerns-if-you-have-bph (Accessed: October 4, 2022).

Stief CG, Porst H, Neuser D, Beneke M, Ulbrich E. A randomised, placebo-controlled study to assess the efficacy of twice-daily vardenafil in the treatment of lower urinary tract symptoms secondary to benign prostatic hyperplasia. Eur Urol. 2008 Jun;53(6):1236-44. doi: 10.1016/j.eururo.2008.01.075. Epub 2008 Feb 4. PMID: 18281145.