Benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH, occurs in the majority of men past the age of 50. Hyperplasia means there is an increase in the number of cells and in BPH, the prostate cells are dividing and creating more prostate cells. This ultimately leads to an increase in size and density which is what causes the symptoms.
The urinary tract passes though the prostate which is what causes the symptoms of increased frequency, urgency, and nocturia (waking at night to go). Other symptoms have to do with voiding and include incontinence, dribbling, straining to void, stream hesitancy and intermittence. These signs and symptoms are typically noticed first, as the testing for it is shied away from by most men.
Testing includes a digital rectal exam to check for the enlarged prostate. There is a blood test which tests for prostate specific antigen (PSA) which can help determine what is going on, but is not specific enough for mild cases. In some cases, an ultrasound is done on the prostate to visualize the organ.
If diagnosed with BPH, conventionally a drug is prescribed to prevent the conversion of testosterone to DHT, which is shown to increase the prostate’s growth and a second which relaxes the smooth muscle and helps with urinary flow. These drugs do have their side effects and naturopathically there are other options.
It is generally wise to limit fluids after dinner to limit nocturia, avoid caffeine and alcohol and ensure any of the medications they are taking are not worsening the condition. Herbally, Saw Palmetto has been shown to have some good results when treating BPH and has a much lower side effect profile than conventional drugs.
It is necessary to discuss alternative and conventional treatment options with your Naturopathic Doctor, as they can help guide treatment most tailored for the individual patient. Naturopathic physicians also have the ability to write prescriptions, and typically do so when there is no other options and it is the best course of action.