Visiting your doctor
When it comes to getting the symptoms of an enlarged prostate checked, often men neglect to visit their doctor. This could be because the problem is perceived to be sensitive or embarrassing in nature however, when we are desperate to get to the end of a meeting, not just so that we can get home to watch the football but because of a need to make a hasty dash to the toilet, it is definitely time to make an appointment with the doctor.
Understanding exactly what is at the root of your weak urine flow, frequent urination and night-time disturbances is the first vital step in finding an effective treatment.
What symptoms should I be discussing with my doctor?
First of all your doctor will ask about your symptoms – anything that disrupts your routine should be considered and this includes the few things listed below. Once you have built up a clear picture of your symptoms and how they affect you, your doctor can then advise you of the next appropriate steps. An examination of the prostate gland itself is likely to follow to understand the health of it and also to make it easier to identify any changes. From here the most appropriate treatment option can be found.
1. Trips to the loo at night
If you are being wakened up several times a night to use the toilet you (and your partner) will soon be feeling the consequences of these constant interruptions to sleep. Not only will you quickly become fed-up with the interior of your bathroom, but you will begin to feel tired, groggy and unrested throughout the day too. This makes it difficult to concentrate at work, as well as on simple tasks such as finding the car in the car park!
2. Always needing to pee
You are in the car, halfway through a meeting, or are just out for a walk and then suddenly realise that you need to go to the toilet… again. Sometimes the nearest pit-stop just isn’t close enough. If you find yourself altering your schedule to fit around toilet breaks then this is a sign that your prostate may need some attention.
3. Poor stream and feeling like you can’t empty your bladder completely
When you do get to the toilet, you expect to feel the relief to flood through your body however, it may be that your urine flow is poor and you struggle to empty your bladder properly. While this can cause discomfort, it also increases the risk of urine or bladder infections so it is worth bringing this up with your doctor.
What happens if I don’t go to the doctor?
Any urinary symptoms experienced by men over the age of 40 should be checked out by the doctor in order to exclude the possibility of prostate cancer, the most common cancer in men. However, symptoms of this often overlap with Benign Prostate Hypertrophy or Hyperplasia (BPH), a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate gland. Although dietary and lifestyle changes can help the condition, it is not something which will settle of its own accord and symptoms are likely to worsen as the prostate gland continues to increase in size.
There are many treatments which can reduce the rate of growth but ideally, these should be explored as early as possible to give you the best chance of controlling the problem.
Research suggests that 20% of men wait around to see if the symptoms will get better of their own accord but for BPH it is unusual for this to happen without any intervention. In severe cases of prostate enlargement, surgery to remove the gland may be the only option – a drastic measure for a situation which may be preventable.
Why are men so reluctant to go to the doctor?
If the symptoms above crop up many men put off going to visit their doctor as there are many misconceptions surrounding the problem however, these must be set straight.
Men often ignore symptoms, believing them to be a normal part of ageing and therefore not needing attention. However, this is not necessarily the case and if you notice changes to your urinary habits it could be useful to have a quick chat to your doctor about your prostate gland.
Next, there is the issue of embarrassment. On the whole, women are more used to discussing private topics with their doctors than men. Most men will have managed to escape these discussions for 50 years or more so it is understandable that they feel somewhat vulnerable when talking about prostate symptoms with a doctor. However, remember that your doctor has ‘heard it all before’ and is there to put you at ease.
Men may also fear getting a diagnosis of prostate cancer and so avoid having symptoms of an enlarged prostate investigated. However, an enlarged prostate does not lead to prostate cancer - these are two entirely separate health conditions, although they can occur simultaneously. If this is the case, it will be best to know as soon as possible as most cases of prostate cancer are treatable.
There is a common thought that doctors will not be able to do anything to help the symptoms. However, even the most exceptional doctor will struggle to suggest any type of treatment if you do not ask for an appointment! However, if you go and speak to your doctor, it is likely that a solution can be found to ease your symptoms.
Finally, some men are concerned about the side effects of taking conventional medicines such as alpha-blockers which are often prescribed for BPH. If this is the case, ask to explore alternatives with your doctor, such as herbal remedies such as Saw Palmetto. This can be found in our remedy Prostasan which works to relieve the urinary symptoms associated with an enlarged prostate.
Originally published 28 Ocotober 2015 (updated on 29 October 2018)