'I'm a Urologist Who's Been Studying Prostate Health for More Than 25 Years—Here Are the 5 Things I Tell Men With an Enlarged Prostate to Do'

Man with an enlarged prostate talking to his urologist

An estimated 70% of men in their 60s have an enlarged prostate. It’s something extremely common to experience as men age and is typically not a cause for concern. However, if it isn’t appropriately monitored, there can be complications. That’s why it’s important to know all the facts about what having an enlarged prostate means.

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What Does It Mean to Have an Enlarged Prostate?

“The prostate is located beneath the bladder and surrounds the urethra, which is a tube-like structure that aids in transporting urine from the bladder to the tip of the penis. Having an enlarged prostate does not necessarily indicate that you will experience symptoms. However, symptoms can range from mild to severe and frequently have a negative impact on quality of life,” explains Dr. Vipul Patel, MD, a urologist and the Medical Director of the oncology program at the AdventHealth Cancer Center and of the Global Robotics Institute.

For those who do experience symptoms, Dr. Patel says they can include:

  • Difficulty starting urination

  • A feeling of incomplete emptying of the bladder

  • Frequent urination, especially at night

  • Urinary urgency and hesitation

  • Urinary retention (inability to pass urine)

Dr. Patel emphasizes that, in general, an enlarged prostate is not life-threatening. However, he says that complications can arise, such as getting urinary tract infections, experiencing acute urinary retention (when the bladder becomes obstructed, making it impossible to pass urine), getting bladder stones and kidney damage. To avoid any of this from happening, there are five key pieces of advice he wants all men with an enlarged prostate to know.

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5 Things Men With an Enlarged Prostate Need to Know, According to a Urologist

1. Get evaluated by your doctor

If you have an enlarged prostate, Dr. Patel says that communicating with your doctor is key. “Maintaining open communication with your health care provider and seeking support from family members or support groups can be valuable for managing the physical and emotional aspects of living with an enlarged prostate. Don't be afraid or shy in case you feel that the condition is a challenge for you and ask for assistance or advice,” he explains.

Additionally, Dr. Patel recommends having an initial evaluation. “This evaluation typically involves a medical history, physical examination and laboratory test such as a urine analysis. You should be proactive about scheduling routine check-ups and follow your doctor's recommendations for ongoing management and care,” he says. This is key for preventing any of the complications that can come from having an enlarged prostate.

2. Consider a prostate cancer screening

While you’re at your doctor’s appointment, Dr. Patel recommends talking to your doctor about whether a prostate cancer screening is appropriate for you. “Currently the American Urological Association recommends offering a baseline prostate screening test to people between ages 45 to 50 years, and possibly earlier for men at increased risk of developing prostate cancer based on the following factors: Black ancestry and strong family history of prostate cancer,” he says.

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3. Maintain a healthy lifestyle

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important for everyone, and men with an enlarged prostate are no exception because it will support their urinary health. Dr. Patel says that this includes eating a balanced diet and getting enough fiber, staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water, avoiding excessive caffeine and alcohol consumption, exercising regularly and managing stress levels.

4. Know your treatment options

“There are various management options available for managing symptoms of [an enlarged prostate], ranging from lifestyle modifications to medication, minimally invasive procedures and surgery,” Dr. Patel says.

He emphasizes that it’s always best to discuss your symptoms, preferences and treatment goals with your health care provider to determine the most suitable approach for your individual needs.

5. Check with your doctor before taking any medications or supplements

Many people don’t think twice about taking a daily multivitamin or other supplements, but if you have an enlarged prostate, Dr. Patel says it’s best to get the all-clear from your doctor before taking prescription medication, over-the-counter drugs or supplements.

“Men who have an enlarged prostate should be mindful of how certain medicines, supplements and ‘natural products’ could affect their urinary problems. You can always talk to your doctor about both prescription and over-the-counter medications that you are using, because some of them might be aggravating the situation. Your doctor may adjust the dose or time when taking these medications or recommend other drugs with fewer side effects in terms of urinary function,” he explains.

It bears repeating that most men will experience an enlarged prostate as they get older. Keeping these five tips in mind will ensure no complications occur. And remember, if you have any questions or concerns at all, talk to your doctor—that’s what they’re there for!

Next up, check out this list of 10 foods that support bladder health.