Many men with an enlarged prostate find themselves needing to get up frequently throughout the night to urinate. Dr. Jen Tan explains why this symptom occurs, and what you can do about it, including self-help methods, natural treatment and conventional treatment.
‘Nocturia’ is the word used to describe the need to get up during the night to urinate. It occurs in both men and women; its most common cause in men is an enlarged prostate.
This need to pee during the night stems from the enlarged prostate’s other common symptom: frequent urination. For many, the frequent need to pee throughout the day does not stop at night, meaning the sufferer has to get up several times during the night. This can be frustrating and exhausting, leaving the sufferer worn out and irritable the next day.
Since the prostate is located just under the bladder, as it becomes enlarged it begins to push against the bladder wall. This irritates the bladder wall as well as reduces the volume of urine the bladder is able to hold. This is what causes frequent urination during the day, a process which often does not stop at night.
Nocturia is often one of the first symptoms of an enlarged prostate. The key reason is that during the night, having your sleep disturbed makes the need to urinate frequently more obvious than during the day.
Before considering any kind of medication or treatment, you may want to try making some small lifestyle changes which may reduce the problem.
The best way to manage nocturia is by controlling your fluid intake. You should eliminate or reduce any fluids, or foods with a high water content, two to three hours before bed – it is important, however, to ensure you maintain the same daily fluid intake, only earlier in the day. Eliminating or reducing alcohol and caffeine intake three to four hours before bed will also help alleviate the need to urinate during the night
Checking your diet is also important: constipation can add extra pressure on the bladder, increasing the need to urinate frequently, so make sure you are eating plenty of fruit, vegetables and high fibre foods. Some people suggest that certain foods specifically help nocturia; grapefruit juice is a popular choice, alongside pumpkin seeds and brown rice. It may be worth trying a few different things to see if they work for you
Pumpkin seeds have traditionally been used to treat reduce an enlarged prostate and manage its symptoms so you may find these helpful
You may find that simple yoga and kegel exercises can help nocturia by strengthening the muscles around the urinary tract and pelvic floor, giving you more control over your bladder. Try the exercises shown in the video below.
You may also want to consider any underlying conditions that may be affecting your sleep, such as sleep apnoea. There is a chance that it is not the need to pee that is waking you up, but some other problem, and only upon waking up do you realise you need to pee.
Combining self-help with a natural herbal remedy will make it easier to manage this symptom.
We recommend an extract of Saw Palmetto, as this helps to treat the general urinary problems that result from an enlarged prostate, and so may help to alleviate nocturia. This extract is available in A.Vogel’s Prostosan capsules.
If self-help and herbal remedies aren’t helping, then you may wish to consider conventional medicine.
To specifically treat this symptom, your GP may prescribe a diuretic. This kind of medication, known as ‘water tablets’, actually increases the need to urinate, but this can be helpful for this symptom because, taken at the right time of day, it can help flush the water from your body before you go to sleep, so you don’t need to get up during the night to urinate.
However, this kind of medication often comes with unpleasant side effects.
Rather than treating the symptom, you should consider treating the root cause: the enlarged prostate itself. There are a number of treatments available, including medication and a range of surgical options. Your GP or hospital specialist can help you find a treatment that suits you.
"Having been told by a consultant urologist some 30 years ago that I would at some stage require surgery, I am pleased to say that having used the saw palmetto capsules from that time he has (so far) been proved wrong!" James, UK