A man’s prostate typically enlarges over time as he grows older. This prostate tissue overgrowth or enlarged prostate is called benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH by the medical community. The prostate, originally the size of a walnut or apricot when a man is in his teens to late 20s, will continue growing throughout his life. Even though an enlarged prostate or prostatic hyperplasia is not prostate cancer, and it isn’t known to cause prostate cancer, both BPH and prostate cancer can occur concurrently, so a yearly prostate checkup is recommended. The suspected culprits behind prostate enlargement are hormonal changes, family history, and time. This age-induced change in hormone levels encourages growth of the prostate to the point where it can eventually become bothersome enough to exhibit BPH symptoms and officially be classified as benign prostatic hyperplasia. When this happens, men will often ask “What lifestyle changes can I make to manage BPH?”
As the prostate tissue continues to grow and benign prostatic hyperplasia becomes more entrenched, additional BPH symptoms typically appear. Since BPH is a progressive disease that gradually increases its grip on a man’s urinary function, these symptoms can at first present as mild to bothersome and eventually become severe in some men if benign prostatic hyperplasia is not managed properly.1 These lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS), brought on by BPH, can include a decrease in urine flow rate, hesitation in beginning the urine stream, straining to urinate, starting and stopping, terminal dribbling, increased urination frequency, a feeling of not being able to fully empty the bladder and other related symptoms. Fortunately, there are plenty of lifestyle changes that can be implemented into a man’s daily routine to make life more comfortable and the BPH symptoms more tolerable. When first addressing BPH symptoms many men will opt for watchful waiting where no intervention is necessary, symptoms are simply monitored, and lifestyle changes for managing benign prostatic hyperplasia are adopted.
What Lifestyle Changes Can I Make to Manage My BPH?
Not all men will get BPH, but about half of all men will get BPH by the time they reach their 60th birthday.1 While there are numerous medical treatment options available to address BPH, many men will opt to begin with simple lifestyle changes to address their BPH symptoms. Thankfully, there is an abundant number of lifestyle changes that can play an important role in managing BPH while helping to reduce symptoms. Below are some lifestyle modifications that can be implemented to help with benign prostatic hyperplasia symptoms:
Eat a Balanced Diet: Consuming a low-fat diet rich in fruits (especially citrus, berries, and tomatoes), vegetables, whole grains and lean protein like salmon and chicken can help with benign prostatic hyperplasia This type of diet provides the nutrients the body needs to maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of inflammation.
Dietary Supplements & Herbal Remedies: Studies regarding the taking of dietary supplements and herbal remedies such as saw palmetto, lycopene, and beta-sitosterol to help BPH symptoms have had mixed results.2
Participating in moderate to vigorous exercise for at least 30 minutes most days of the week may help to reduce BPH symptoms. Aerobic (with oxygen) exercises such as swimming, walking, running, and biking will help burn calories from carbs, fat, and oxygen intake and it will help increase the number of blood vessels. Anaerobic exercises (without oxygen) such as weightlifting, strength training, and interval training will increase the size of blood vessels and utilize glucose already stored in muscle tissue.3,7,8
Maintaining a healthy weight can help control BPH symptoms since excess body fat may increase hormone levels and other factors in the blood and stimulate the growth of prostate cells, thus potentially worsening BPH.1
Avoid Irritative Liquids:
By avoiding or greatly limiting beverages that contain caffeine or alcohol that tend to stimulate the bladder and increase urination such as coffee, green and black tea, hot chocolate, energy drinks, sodas, beer, wine, and spirits, benign prostatic hyperplasia may be more controllable. These substances are stimulants and diuretics and encourage the bladder to produce more urine. This additional irritation may worsen urinary symptoms brought on by an enlarged prostate.5
Urinary symptoms can worsen with stress. Relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, or yoga can help manage stress and possibly reduce BPH symptoms. Stress relief will also help more than the prostate.6
Empty the Bladder Regularly:
Making sure the bladder is fully emptied during each trip to the restroom helps prevent urinary retention and reduces BPH symptoms. It also helps minimize urinary tract infections (UTIs). Sometimes double voiding may be necessary to empty the bladder fully.
Limit Fluids Before Bed:
To decrease the number of overnight trips to the bathroom, reduction of fluid intake at least 2 hours before bedtime is important.5 Frequent bathroom visits during the night due to an enlarged prostate can interrupt sleep patterns and there is always an added risk of falls, tripping, or stumbling while getting out of bed multiple times.
Certain medications such as decongestants and antihistamines can compound BPH symptoms.9 Consultation with a doctor about a possible adjustment in medications may be warranted if an interaction is suspected.
Avoid Exposure to Cold Weather:
Cold weather can exacerbate urinary symptoms in some men. This is due to cold diuresis, a condition that involves the kidneys and the production of too much urine. The body naturally tries to conserve heat when presented with a drop in temperature to avoid contracting hypothermia. The protection of the body’s internal organs is the body’s top priority. To preserve heat, the body starts to constrict periphery blood vessels in the skin and redirect the flow of blood from the skin to the body’s center to keep vital organs warm and protected. This results in a slight spike in blood pressure since more blood than usual is being pumped through a smaller area. When this blood flow is redirected inward, the kidneys respond by filtering excess fluid in the blood to reduce the volume and thus lower blood pressure. An increase in urination is the result of the excess fluid being filtered out. In addition, because there is less fluid loss due to sweating in cold weather, more urine is naturally produced. In the summer the opposite occurs.4
Training the Bladder:
Gradually increasing the time between trips to the bathroom can train the bladder to hold more urine. This can help with reducing urinary frequency.
Lifestyle changes can help manage enlarged prostate symptoms for some men, but they may not provide a total solution for all men. When watchful waiting is being practiced to address benign prostatic hyperplasia and observations are being made as to symptom frequency, duration, and severity, then these Lifestyle changes have the potential to make a difference. If the prostate tissue continues to grow and BPH symptoms start to become more moderate to severe and begin impacting the quality of life, then medical treatments such as medications or minimally invasive procedures may be necessary.
It’s important to keep in touch with a healthcare provider about ongoing BPH symptoms and any lifestyle changes being made will help the overall process. If there are changes or additional symptoms, this information will be helpful as progress is monitored.
All surgical treatments have inherent and associated side effects. Individual’s outcomes may depend on a number of factors, including but not limited to patient characteristics, disease characteristics and/or surgeon experience. The most common side effects are mild and transient and may include mild pain or difficulty when urinating, discomfort in the pelvis, blood in the urine, inability to empty the bladder or a frequent and/or urgent need to urinate, and bladder or urinary tract infection. Other risks include ejaculatory dysfunction and a low risk of injury to the urethra or rectum where the devices gain access to the body for treatment. Further, there may be other risks as in other urological surgery, such as anesthesia risk or the risk of infection, including the potential transmission of blood borne pathogens. For more information about potential side effects and risks associated with Aquablation therapy for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) treatment, speak with your urologist or surgeon. Prior to using our products, please review the Instructions for Use, Operator’s Manual or User Manual, as applicable, and any accompanying documentation for a complete listing of indications, contraindications, warnings, precautions and potential adverse events. No claim is made that the AquaBeam Robotic System will cure any medical condition, or entirely eliminate the diseased entity. Repeated treatment or alternative therapies may sometimes be required.