The prostate naturally changes as a man ages. Most men’s prostates gradually increase in size, starting as early as 25. This condition, called prostatic hyperplasia or an enlarged prostate, is not prostate cancer, the most common form of cancer in men.
When the prostate grows in size, it applies pressure to the urethra — a narrow tube through which urine leaves the body. This pressure makes you feel like you have to urinate more often — much more often.
At Buschemeyer Urology, experienced urologist W. Cooper Buschemeyer III, MD, sees many older male patients who have complaints about increased bathroom visits and changes to their urine stream. Most often, these symptoms indicate an enlarged prostate. We offer treatment to relieve your symptoms and look for any other possible prostate complications.
Here’s what to know about your prostate and when to get it checked out.
An enlarged prostate
The prostate is a small gland that sits inside the groin, between the base of the penis and the rectum. It supplies part of the seminal fluid that helps sperm travel and survive.
In almost all men, age makes the prostate grow in size. As many as 90% of men aged 80 or older have an enlarged prostate. Why the prostate grows in size with age isn’t fully understood, but if you have normally functioning testes — you’re at risk.
An enlarged prostate can cause uncomfortable symptoms, but it is not a sign of cancer, nor does it raise your risk for prostate cancer.
Concerning prostate symptoms
If you notice prostate symptoms, it’s a good idea to make an appointment at our office. That’s not because these indicate cancer but because they are easily resolved.
Symptoms of possible prostate issues include:
- Weak or interrupted urinary stream
- Frequent urination, especially at night
- Sudden urgency to urinate
- Inability to completely empty your bladder during urination
- Stalled initiation of your urine flow, even when your bladder feels full
- Pain or burning during urination
Often, an enlarged prostate shows no symptoms.
When these symptoms arise, and you’re younger than 40, plan to get checked immediately. If you or a close relative have a history of prostate cancer, you should also schedule an exam soon. Blood in the urine or semen and erectile dysfunction or painful ejaculation are other concerning symptoms that deserve a check.
Diagnosing prostate issues
When you come to Buschemeyer Urology, you’ll undergo several tests to check for prostate enlargement and rule out cancer. Remember, cancer is an uncommon diagnosis for frequent urination.
Dr. Buschemeyer will do a digital rectal exam. He’ll use a gloved finger inserted into the rectum to assess the size and condition of the prostate gland.
He’ll also run urine tests to check for infections or rare problems, like bladder cancer, which can cause similar symptoms.
Dr. Buschemeyer may also order a PSA, or prostate-specific antigen test, to monitor the level of prostate-specific antigens in your blood. This test can check for both benign enlargement and prostate cancer.
Sometimes, the doctor also recommends urodynamic tests to evaluate the performance of the lower urinary tract and cystoscopy, an imaging exam that evaluates the anatomy of the urethra, prostate, and bladder.
Treatment for enlarged prostate
Dr. Buschemeyer offers several treatments for an enlarged prostate. They include medications, minimally invasive therapies, and surgery. Exactly which treatment is right for you depends on your age, the size of your prostate, your overall health, and the level of your discomfort.
If you have another health problem, including cancer, causing frequent urination, Dr. Buschemeyer works with you to develop a treatment plan.
If you’re a man older than 40, start your relationship with a qualified urologist like W. Cooper Buschemeyer III, MD, to stay on top of your prostate health. Contact our team at Buschemeyer Urology at the Conroe, Willis, or The Woodlands, Texas, offices.