Treatment will depend on your age, overall health, and the severity of your symptoms. BPH symptoms may come and go, so it is important to get regular check-ups to monitor the progression of symptoms. There are many ways to successfully treat BPH, including simple lifestyle changes, herbal remedies, and medications. If no other therapies work and the symptoms are severe enough, several types of surgery may help correct the condition.
Many men with BPH have only minor symptoms. Simple lifestyle changes may be all you need to feel better:
- Urinate when you first get the urge.
- Go to the bathroom when you have the chance, even if you do not feel a need to urinate.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine, especially after dinner. Try not to drink within 2 hours before going to bed.
- Spread out your fluid intake throughout the day. Avoid drinking large amounts of fluid at one time.
- Avoid cold and sinus medications. Decongestants and antihistamines can worsen BPH symptoms.
- Exercise regularly.
- Do Kegel exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor.
- Reduce stress.
Alpha blockers. Also known as alpha-adrenergic antagonists, these medicines cause the muscles around your bladder to relax, making it easier to urinate. These drugs were originally used to treat high blood pressure. They seem to work best in men with moderately enlarged prostates. Common side effects include decreased ejaculation and low blood pressure. These drugs should not be taken with medications for erectile dysfunction, such as Viagra or Cialis. Alpha blockers include:
- Terzosin (Hytrin)
- Doxazosin (Cardura)
- Tamsulosin (Flomax)
- Alfuzosin (Uroxatral)
Enzyme inhibitors. Also known as 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors, these medicines shrink the prostate gland by reducing the amount of testosterone the body converts into dihydrotestosterone, a hormone the prostate needs to grow. These drugs take longer to work than alpha blockers. They also lower PSA levels (a high level of PSA can indicate prostate cancer), making it harder to screen for prostate cancer. Enzyme inhibitors include:
- Finasteride (Proscar)
- Dutasteride (Avodart)
- Botulinum toxin (Botox)
Your doctor may suggest a combination therapy of taking an alpha blocker and an enzyme inhibitor at the same time.
Surgery and Other Procedures
Prostate surgery may be recommended if you have:
- Recurrent blood in the urine
- Urinary retention
- Recurrent urinary tract infections
Which procedure is best for you usually depends on the severity of your symptoms and the size and shape of your prostate gland.
Minimally invasive techniques
These techniques may be better at relieving symptoms than medications, but are often not as effective as surgery. However, they are less likely to cause side effects than surgery.
Transurethtral microwave therapy. Uses heat from microwaves to shrink the prostate. This procedure works best for men with moderate symptoms and enlargement of the prostate.
Transurethral needle ablation. Uses radio waves to get rid of the part of the prostate that is blocking urine flow. It works best for men with mild-to-moderate enlargement of the prostate.
Interstitial laser therapy. Uses a laser to destroy excess tissue and shrink the prostate. It works best for men who have mild-to-moderate enlargement of the prostate and do not experience urinary retention.
Surgery is the most effective way to reduce your symptoms, but potential side effects include a small risk of erectile dysfunction or urinary incontinence.
Transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP). TURP is the most common surgical treatment for BPH. Doctors perform TURP by inserting a scope through the penis. The primary advantage of this procedure is that it does not involve an incision, reducing the risk of infection. One potential side effect is retrograde ejaculation, where semen goes into the bladder instead of out the urethra.
Transurethral incision of the prostate (TUIP). TUIP is similar to TURP, but is usually performed in men who have a relatively small prostate. Like the TURP, a scope is inserted through the penis until the prostate is reached. Then, rather than removing prostate tissue, a small incision is made in the tissue to let the urethra expand and make urination easier. This procedure is usually performed on an outpatient basis and does not require a hospital stay.
Laser surgery. Two types of laser surgery are used to destroy excess prostate tissue. Photosensitive vaporization of the prostate (PVP) is used for men with mild-to-moderate prostate enlargement, while holmium laser enucleation of the prostate (HoLEP) is usually used for men with severely enlarged prostates. Side effects can include retrograde ejaculation.
Open prostatectomy. An open prostatectomy is usually performed using general or spinal anesthesia. An incision is made through the abdomen or perineal area (through the pelvic floor, including the region between the scrotum and the anus). This is a lengthy procedure, and usually requires a hospital stay of 5 to 10 days.
Most men who have prostate surgery see improvement in urine flow rates and symptoms. Possible complications include impotence, urinary incontinence, retrograde ejaculation, infertility, and urethral stricture (narrowing).
Nutrition and Dietary Supplements
Beta-sitosterol. Beta-sitosterol is a cholesterol-like compound found in plants. It has been studied for BPH and found to significantly improve urinary flow and decrease the amount of urine left in the bladder. It does not shrink the prostate. Beta-sitosterol is also used to lower cholesterol, making it a good option for men whose cholesterol levels are high. Plants that are high in beta-sitosterol, such as pumpkin seeds (Cucurbita pepo), are sometimes suggested for BPH. Talk to your doctor before adding any supplements to your BPH treatment regimen.
The use of herbs is a time-honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. Herbs, however, can trigger side effects and can interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, you should take herbs only under the supervision of a health care provider.
- Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens). Several studies have examined whether saw palmetto can relieve BPH symptoms, and many (though not all) showed positive results. Saw palmetto appears to work like Proscar and Avodart, which prevent testosterone from being converted into dihydrotestosterone (needed for prostate growth) in the body. Some studies have shown saw palmetto to be as effective as Proscar and finasteride and with fewer side effects. A European study showed that half of German urologists preferred saw palmetto over pharmaceuticals for treatment of BPH. However, it does not shrink the overall prostate, but shrinks the inner lining of the gland. It should be noted that, unlike previous studies, a newer, high-quality study found that saw palmetto had no effect on BPH symptoms. Talk to your doctor if you want to try saw palmetto for your symptoms, and look for a fat soluble saw palmetto extract that has been standardized to contain 85 to 95% fatty acids and sterols. Saw palmetto may react with blood-thinning medications as well as hormone-related medications and conditions.
- Pygeum or African plum extract (Pygeum africanum) Pygeum has been used historically for urinary problems. In several scientific studies, pygeum relieved BPH symptoms including nocturia (increased urination at night) and improved urine flow.
- Grass pollen (Secale cereale). Two studies that compared a standardized extract of rye grass pollen to a placebo found that the grass pollen improved BPH symptoms, including reducing frequency of nighttime urination and the amount of urine left in the bladder. One study also indicated that grass pollen decreased the size of the prostate as measured by an ultrasound exam. The brand of rye grass pollen most often used in studies is Cernilton. Persons who have allergies to grass pollens should not take grass pollen supplements.
Prognosis and Complications
While the majority of men get better with treatment of BPH, men who have had long standing BPH may develop:
- Sudden inability to urinate
- Urinary tract infections
- Urinary stones
- Damage to the kidneys
- Blood in the urine
Altavilla D, Bitto A, Polito F, Irrera N, Marini H, Arena S, Favilla V, Squadrito F, Morgia G, Minutoli L. The combination of Serenoa repens, selenium and lycopene is more effective than Serenoa repens alone to prevent hormone dependent prostatic growth. J Urol. 2011;186(4):1524-9.
Arias-Santiago S, Arrabal-Polo MA, Buendia-Eisman A, et al. Androgenetic alopecia as an early marker of benign prostatic hyperplasia. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2012;66(3):401-8.
Avins AL, Lee JY, Meyers CM, Barry MJ. Safety and Toxicity of saw palmetto in the CAMUS trial. J Urol. 2013;189(4):1415-20.
Barry MJ, Meleth S, Lee JY, Kreder KJ, Avins AL, Nickel JC, Roehrborn CG, Crawford ED, Foster HE Jr, Kaplan SA, McCullogh A, Andriole GL, Naslund MJ, Williams OD, Kusek JW, Meyers CM, Betz JM, Cantor A, McVary KT: Complementary and Alternative Medicine for Urological Symptoms (CAMUS) Study Group. Effect of increasing doses of saw palmetto extract on lower urinary tract symptoms: a randomized trial. JAMA. 2011;306(12):1344-51.
Bechis SK, Ostetov AG, Ge R, Olumi AF. Personalized medicine for the management of benign prostatic hyperplasia. J Urol. 2014;192(1):16-23.
Berges RR, Kassen A, Senge T. Treatment of symptomatic benign prostatic hyperplasia with beta-sitosterol: an 18-month follow-up. BJU Int. 2000;85:842-6.
Bondarenko B, Walther C, Funk P, Schlafke S, Engelmann U. Long-term efficacy and safety of PRO 160/120 (a combination of sabal and urtica extract) in patients with lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS). Phytomedicine. 2003:10 Suppl 4:53-55.
Bope & Kellerman: Conn's Current Therapy 2013. 1st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012.
Boy S, Seif C, Braun PM, Junemann KP. Botulinum toxin in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia: an overview. Urologe A. 2008;47(11):1465-71.
Chapple CR. Clinical study of benign prostatic disease, current concepts and future prospects randomized controlled trials versus real life practice. Curr Opin Urol. 2003;13(1):1-5.
Delongchamps N, de la Roza G, Chandan V, Jones R, Sunheimer R, Threatte G, Jumbelic M, Haas GP. Evaluation of prostatitis in autopsied prostates -- is chronic inflammation more associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia or cancer? J Urol. 2008;179(5):1736-40.
Edwards J. Diagnosis and Management of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia. American Family Physician. 2008;77(10).
Ernst E. The risk-benefit profile of commonly used herbal therapies: Ginkgo, St. John's Wort, Ginseng, Echinacea, Saw Palmetto, and Kava. Ann Intern Med. 2002;136(1):42-53.
Ferri: Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2016. 1st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015.
Fwu CW, Eggers PW, Kirkali Z, McVary KT, Burrows PK, Kusek JW. Change in sexual function in men with lower urinary tract symptoms/benign prostatic hyperplasia associated with long-term treatment with doxazosin, finasteride and combined therapy. J Urol. 2014;191(6):1828-34.
Garimella PS, Fink HA, Macdonald R, Wilt TJ. Naftopidil for the treatment of lower unrinary tract symptoms compatible with benign prostatic hyperplasia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009;(4):CD007360.
Gerber GS. Saw palmetto for the treatment of men with lower urinary tract symptoms. J Urol. 2000;163(5):1408-12.
Gerber GS, Kuznetsov D, Johnson BC, Burstein JD. Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of saw palmetto in men with lower urinary tract symptoms. Urology. 2001;58(6):960-5.
Gilling PJ, Wilson LC, King CJ, Westenberg AM, Frampton CM, Fraundorfer MR. Long-term results of a randomized trial comparing holmium laser enucleation of the prostate and transurethral resection of the porostate: results at 7 years. BJU Int. 2011 Aug 32. [Epub ahead of print]
Gonzales GF. Ethnobiology and ethnopharmacology of lepidum meyenii (maca), a plant from the Peruvian highlands. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011 Oct 2. [Epub ahead of print]
Gordon AE, Shaughnessy AF. Saw palmetto for prostate disorders. Am Fam Physician. 2003;67(6):1281-3.
Ilic D, Misso M. Lycopene for the prevention and treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostate cancer: a systemic review. Maturitas. 2012;72(4):269-76.
Ishani A, MacDonald R, Nelson D, et al. Pygeum africanum for the treatment of patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia: a systematic review and quantitative meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2000;109:654-64.
Kane CJ, Raheem OA, Bent S, Avins AL. What do I tell patients about saw palmetto for benign prostatic hyperplasia? Urol Clin North Am. 2011;38(3):261-77.
Katz AE. Flavonoid and botanical approaches to prostate health. J Altern Complemet Med. 2002;8(6):813-21.
Klingler HC. New innovative therapies for benign prostatic hyperplasia: any advance? Curr Opin Urol. 2003;13(1):11-15.
Koch E. Extracts from fruits of saw palmetto (Sabal serrulata) and roots of stinging nettle (Urtica dioica): viable alternatives in the medical treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia and associated lower urinary tracts symptoms. Planta Med. 2001;67(6):489-500.
Kosalec I, Kopjar N, Kremer D. Antimicrobial activity of Willowherb (Epilobium angustifolium L.) leaves and flowers. Curr Drug Targets. 2013;14(9):986-91.
MacDonald R, Ishani A, Rutks I, Wilt TJ. A systematic review of Cernilton for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia. BJU Int. 2000;85:836-41.
Managing lower urinary tract symptoms in men. Drug Ther Bull. 2003;41(3):18-21.
Marks LS, Partin AW, Epstein JI, et al. Effects of saw palmetto herbal blend in men with symptomatic benign prostatic hyperplasia. J Urol. 2000;163(5):1451-6.
Mazur D, Helfand B, McVary K. Influences of Neuroregulatory Factors on the Development of Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms/ Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia and Erectile Dysfunction in Aging Men. Urologic Clinics of North America. Philadelphia, PA: W.B. Saunders Company. 2012;39(1).
Mobley D, Feibus A, Baum N. Benign prostatic hyperplasia and urinary symptoms: Evaluation and treatment. Postgrad Med. 2015:127(3):301-7.
Na Y, Ye Z, Zhang S. Efficacy and safety of dutasteride in Chinese adults with symptomatic benign prostatic hyperplasia: A randomized, double-blind, parallel-group, placebo-controlled study with an open-lable extension. Clic Drug Investig. 2011 Oct 21. [Epub ahead of print]
Nichol MB, Knight TK, Wu J, Barron R, Penson DF. Evaluating use patterns of and adherence to medications for benign prostatic hyperplasia. J Urol. 2009;181(5):2214-21.
Parsons JK, Sarma AV, Mcvary K, Wei JT. Obesity and benign prostatic hyperplasia: clinical connections, emerging etiological paradigms and future directions. J Urol. 2013;189(1 Suppl):S102-6.
Penson DF, Munro HM, Signorello LB, Blot WJ, Fowke JH; Urologic diseases in America project. Obesity, physical activity and lower urinary tract symptoms: results from the southern community cohort study. J Urol. 2011;186(6):2316-22.
Pinheiro LC, Martins Pisco J. Treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia. Tech Vasc Interv Radiol. 2012;15(4):256-60.
Pinto JD, He HG, Chan SW, Toh PC, Esuvaranathan K, Wang W. Health-related quality of life and psychological well-being in patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia. J Clin Nurs. 2015;24(3-4):511-22.
Pittler MH. Complementary therapies for treating benign prostatic hyperplasia. FACT. 2000;5(4):255-7.
Porst H, Kim ED, Casabé AR, Mirone V, Secrest RJ, Xu L, Sundin DP, Viktrup L; LVHJ study team. Efficacy and safety of tadalafil once daily in the treatment of men with lower urinary tract symptoms suggestive of benign prostatic hyperplasia: results of an international randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Eur Urol. 2011;60(5):1105-13.
Rotblatt M, Ziment I. Evidence-Based Herbal Medicine. Philadelphia, PA: Hanley & Belfus, Inc.; 2002:327-31.
Shi R, Xie Q, Gang X, Lun J, Cheng L, Pantuck A, Rao J. Effect of saw palmetto soft gel capsule on lower urinary tract symptoms associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia: a randomized trial in Shanghai, China. J Urol. 2008;179(2):610-5.
Sinescu I, Geavlete P, Multescu R, Gangu C, Miclea F, Coman I, Ioiart I, Ambert V, Constantin T, Petrut B, Feciche B. Long-term efficacy of Serenoa repens treatment in patients with mild and moderate symptomatic benign prostatic hyperplasia. Urol Int. 2011;86(3):248-9.
Suzuki S, Platz EA, Kawachi I, Willett WC, Giovannucci E. Intakes of energy and macronutrients and the risk of benign prostatic hyperplasia. Am J Clin Nutr. 2002;75(4):689-97.
Tacklind J, MacDonald R, Rutks I, Wilt TJ. Serenoa repens for benign prostatic hyperplasia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009;(2):CD001423.
Willets KE, Clements MS, Champion S, Ehsman S, Eden JA. Serenoa repens extract for benign prostate hyperplasia: a randomized controlled trial. BJU Int. 2003;92(3):267-70.
Wilt T, Ishani A, Mac Donald R, et al. Pygeum africanum for benign prostatic hyperplasia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2002;CD001044.
Wilt T, Ishani A, Mac Donald R. Serenoa repens for benign prostatic hyperplasia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2002;(3):CD001423
Wilt TJ, Ishani A, Rutks I, MacDonald R. Phytotherapy for benign prostatic hyperplasia. Public Health Nutr. 2000;3(4A):459-72.