By Dr. Christopher Kearns, Urologist, Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital Ozaukee and Madison Medical Affiliates
As we recognize National Men’s Health Month in June, there is no better time to explore the topic of prostate health. Obviously, when it comes to the prostate, cancer is the big one, affecting one in seven men. But there are other prostate ailments – though not as serious – that should not be taken lightly.
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) is when your prostate is enlarged, but not cancerous. This is very common in men as they get older and may cause difficulties with urination. Men with BPH may have to urinate more often and urgently. In addition, it may be harder to start urinating or to empty the bladder completely. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s best to visit your doctor for an exam. The treatment options depend on the severity of the symptoms. There are medications that can relax or shrink the prostate or, for more serious or resistant cases, surgery is an option. BPH can also sometimes be treated with less invasive procedures such as lasers. Your doctor will recommend which treatment method is appropriate.
This is a bacterial infection that can cause fever, chills, pain while urinating or blood in your urine. If you experience any of these, see your doctor immediately so he or she can prescribe an antibiotic to clear up the infection. There is also a chronic form of bacterial prostatitis, which is when the infection continues to come back. Though rare, this condition can be difficult to treat – long-term antibiotics are often the best course of action.
This is another common prostate problem. Non-bacterial prostatitis can cause pain at the tip of the penis, in the groin area and the lower back as well as pain while ejaculating. Some men also report more frequent urges to urinate while only a small amount is released. Treatment for non-bacterial prostatitis often includes a combination of mediation, surgery and lifestyle changes.
Even though you said “besides cancer,” I would be remiss not to touch on the subject. Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in American men. In 2016, an estimated 180,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer (and 26,000 will die from it). There are no early signs of prostate cancer, so getting regular checkups (blood test and physical exam) can help to catch the disease early, when it is more treatable. Men at high risk for prostate cancer should begin receiving an annual prostate exam at age 40 (those not high risk should start at age 50). Talk with your doctor about your risk factors and together come up with a strategy to help keep you healthy.
Dr. Christopher Kearns is a urologist at Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital Ozaukee and Madison Medical Affiliates. For more information, call 262-243-2524.
This article appeared in the Thursday, June 9, issue of The Ozaukee News Graphic.