A swollen prostate: everything you need to know


Welcome to this comprehensive guide to the enlarged prostate, also known as benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH). If you're interested in men's health or concerned about urinary problems, then this is the article for you. We'll explain everything you need to know about an enlarged prostate, including its causes, symptoms, potential complications and available treatment options. So sit back and let's dive into the subject.


What is a swollen prostate?

The swollen prostatealso known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or prostate adenoma, is a common condition in older men. The prostate is a small gland located beneath the bladder, playing a key role in the production of seminal fluid. With age, the prostate tends to increase in size, a normal phenomenon but one that can sometimes lead to complications.

When a prostate becomes swollen, it exerts pressure on the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body. This can lead to a variety of symptoms, mainly related to urinary disorders. Men with an enlarged prostate may experience difficulty in starting to urinate, a weak urine stream, frequent urination, particularly at night, and a sensation of incomplete bladder emptying.

While an enlarged prostate is often associated with the natural aging process, certain risk factors such as family history, male sex hormones, and the presence of certain medical conditions can accelerate this process. It's essential to monitor symptoms and consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis.

Treatment of an enlarged prostate varies according to the severity of symptoms. Approaches ranging from active surveillance to medication and surgery may be considered. The main aim is to improve quality of life by reducing urinary symptoms and minimizing the complications associated with this common condition in mature men.

Causes of prostate swelling

The exact cause of prostate swelling is not fully understood, but several factors may contribute to its development. Hormonal changes associated with aging are considered a key factor. Increased levels of hormones such as testosterone can promote prostate growth. Genetic factors and a family history of BPH may also play a role. Other risk factors include obesity, diabetes and smoking. Common causes include:

  1. Age: Prostate swelling is often associated with the aging process in men. As men age, the prostate tends to increase in size, which can cause compression of the urethra and symptoms of obstruction.
  2. Hormonal changes: Hormonal imbalances, particularly an increase in estrogen levels relative to testosterone levels, can contribute to prostate growth.
  3. Family history: Men with a family history of prostatic hypertrophy are more likely to develop this condition.
  4. Inflammation: Inflammation of the prostate, known as prostatitis, can cause swelling of the gland.
  5. Environmental factors: Certain environmental factors, such as exposure to toxic chemicals, can play a role in the development of prostatic hypertrophy.

It's important to note that while prostate swelling can cause troublesome symptoms, it's not usually caused by prostate cancer. However, it is always advisable to consult a physician for a proper examination and accurate diagnosis.

Prostate symptoms, pain?

Prostate symptoms can vary from person to person, but some common symptoms include:

  1. Frequent need to urinate
  2. Urgent need to urinate
  3. Difficulty starting and stopping urine flow
  4. Weak or intermittent urine flow
  5. Sensation of incomplete bladder emptying
  6. Need to urinate at night (nocturia)
  7. Post-micturition drops
  8. Prostate pain

It's important to note that these symptoms can also be associated with other health problems, such as bladder infection or prostate cancer. It is therefore essential to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis.

Complications of an enlarged prostate

Although swollen prostate is generally considered a non-cancerous condition, it can lead to potential complications if left untreated. Possible complications include:

  • Recurrent bladder infections
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Acute urinary retention
  • Bladder stones
  • Renal insufficiency

So it's crucial to manage an enlarged prostate properly and follow medical recommendations.


How is benign prostatic hyperplasia diagnosed?

If you have symptoms of an enlarged prostate, your doctor will perform a physical examination and may recommend additional tests. Tests commonly used to diagnose an enlarged prostate include:

  1. Digital rectal examination (DRE): Your doctor will insert a gloved, lubricated finger into your rectum to examine the prostate and detect any abnormalities.
  2. Urinalysis: A urine sample may be taken to detect infection or other problems.
  3. PSA assay: PSA (prostate-specific antigen) is a protein produced by the prostate. High levels of PSA can indicate prostate problems, including hypertrophy.
  4. Medical imaging: Imaging tests such as ultrasound, MRI or cystoscopy can be used to obtain a better visualization of the prostate and rule out other conditions.


Treatment options for an enlarged prostate

When it comes to treating an enlarged prostate, several options are available, depending on the severity of symptoms and individual preferences. The main treatment options include:

  1. Watchful waiting: In cases where symptoms are not severe, your doctor may recommend regular monitoring without immediate medical intervention.
  2. Medications: Medications such as 5-alpha reductase inhibitors and alpha-blockers may be prescribed to reduce the symptoms of a swollen prostate.
  3. Laser therapy: This procedure uses a laser to reduce excess prostate tissue and relieve urinary symptoms.
  4. Transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP): A surgical procedure in which part of the prostate is removed to relieve symptoms.
  5. Open surgery: In severe cases of BPH, traditional surgery may be required to remove all or part of the prostate.


Prostate artery embolization: the best alternative to surgery

Embolization is a technique used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) in certain patients. Here is some information on the treatment of BPH by embolization:

Prostate embolization is a procedure performed by an interventional radiologist. It involves inserting small particles into the blood vessels supplying the prostate in order to obstruct them. This obstruction reduces blood flow to the prostate, resulting in a narrowing of the gland and an improvement in the symptoms associated with BPH.

Embolization treatment is generally reserved for patients with moderate to severe symptoms of BPH who have not responded to other conservative treatments. It is an alternative to traditional surgery, such as transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) or laser ablation.

Potential benefits of prostatic embolization :

  • Less invasive procedure: embolization is performed through a small incision in the groin, avoiding a more invasive surgical procedure.
  • Shorter recovery time: compared with surgery, recovery from embolization is generally faster.
  • Fewer side effects: the risk of complications, such as urinary incontinence or erectile dysfunction, is generally lower than with surgery.


Preventing an enlarged prostate

While it's not possible to completely prevent an enlarged prostate, certain measures can reduce the risk of developing this condition. Here are some tips for a healthy prostate:

  • Maintain a healthy weight: Obesity can increase the risk of prostate problems, so make sure you maintain a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise.
  • Pay attention to your diet: Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein sources. Avoid processed foods high in saturated fats.
  • Exercise regularly: Regular exercise, such as walking, swimming or cycling, can help maintain good prostate health.
  • Limit alcohol consumption: Excessive alcohol consumption can increase the risk of prostate problems, so moderate your intake.
  • Don't smoke: Smoking can worsen the symptoms of a swollen prostate, in addition to its many other adverse health effects.