Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia Treatments

The main treatment options for BPH are

  • watchful waiting (close monitoring but no immediate treatment)
  • plant-based remedies (phytotherapy)
  • medication
  • surgery
  • minimally invasive procedures

If medications do not relieve symptoms in a man who is not a candidate for surgery (for example, because he is unable to withstand the rigors of surgery), urethral obstruction and incontinence may be managed with intermittent catheterization or with an indwelling Foley catheter (a catheter with a balloon at its tip that, when inflated, holds the catheter in place in the bladder). The catheter is usually changed monthly.

Watchful Waiting for BPH

Because the course of BPH is unpredictable, watchful waiting is often best for men with minimal symptoms that are not especially bothersome. With this treatment option, physician visits are needed about once a year to review symptom status, conduct a physical examination, and perform a few simple laboratory tests.

During watchful waiting, men should adopt certain lifestyle measures to help relieve symptoms or prevent them from worsening. For example, they should not take over-the-counter antihistamines or decongestants and should avoid delaying urination. They also need to limit the amount of fluid consumed at any one time and not drink anything after 7 p.m. In addition, they should avoid beverages that contain caffeine, limit alcohol intake, and cut back on spicy or salty foods.

Engaging in regular physical activity, doing Kegel exercises, and keeping warm also can be helpful. The association between lower urinary tract symptoms and cold weather is probably related to increased sympathetic activity (the sympathetic nervous system is more active in cold weather), which causes increased smooth muscle tone within the prostate.

Preventing weight gain (especially around the middle), eating a diet rich in vegetables, and keeping blood sugar under control also may help keep prostate enlargement in check.

Publication Review By: H. Ballentine Carter, M.D.

Published: 10 Apr 2011

Last Modified: 31 Aug 2015