Page – Men’s Health 01 – Benign prostatic hypoplasia (BPH)

Benign prostatic hypoplasia is a condition visited upon many elderly gentlemen, including myself. Onset of the condition usually ocurs from age 50 onwards and is progressively more likely the older you get.

Its called benign because its not cancerous. But its not really benign in the sense of not having any ill-effects.

Its very similar to prostate cancer in its effects. OK sufferers won’t die of it, but from my experience, its not exactly living life to the full either.

Let me walk you through it and share my own experiences.

For a start, as the condition progresses, the prostate starts to pinch the urethra and you will experience difficulty in peeing. Your bladder is forced to work harder, leading to deterioration of the bladder muscles. Unless early treatment is successful, you will eventually be reduced to pissing with the aid of a catheter. Every time you pee. You will also frequently develop urinary tract infections, which cause the symptoms of intense and painful urges to pee, often with little or no actual urine being passed. The urge to pee will also increase in frequency. This has the knock-on effect of sleepnessness and exhaustion, as you’ll frequently be waking up throughout the night wanting to pee. And finally, if the lack of sleep doesn’t get you, depending on the bacteria causing the UTI and the infection’s severity, you may also experience sleeping-sickness where you feel very lethargic and painfully tired, eventually causing you to sleep for long periods. I’ve been known to fall into a deep sleep for up to 16 hours at a stretch, and without the aid of alcohol.

And for seconds, your sex-life goes out the window, because as your prostate increases in size, your sex-drive plummets, and most sufferers can barely raise an erection at times. And its a fucking miracle if they achieve a pleasurable outcome for either partner when trying to make love, because of premature and very weak ejaculations, with associated very weak orgasms.

The usually prescribed course of treatment is a combination of drugs: Tamulousin and Finasteride.  Tamulousin is the more effective of the 2, with Finasteride providing a slower, longer term complementary relief.

Both are steroids. They work for some people, others not. In both cases their beneficial effects recede if you stop taking them

For those that are not susceptible to Tamalousin’s charms, there is a brick wall ahead.

Your GP won’t warn you of this, at least mine didn’t.

The standard treatment, if Tamalousin doesnt work, is to drill a chunk out of your prostate gland, to relieve the pressure that the ever-growing prostate  has exerted on your urethra. This is known as the TURP procedure.

Drilling or cutting a chunk out of your prostate gland will most likely render you completely and permanently impotent. A recent development is the use of a green laser, which appears to be far less invasive, with quicker healing much better outcomes in terms sexual potency.

Also, because you are dependant on single-use catheters, you need to plan ahead if you’re going to be away from home for any lengt of time. And I’m talking about no more than a 2 hour escape in my case.

Its manageable, but its not fun

I’ve recently moved to a near vegan diet, and I think it may help. It has certainly boosted my general energy levels. I’m also looking to fire up a water distiller to see if that helps. An unproven theory of mine is that BPH is caused by Birth Pill metabolite residues, which do not get removed from recycled household water supplies.

But in any case, it gets worse. As the the prostate grows, you start to get constant back-ache.
The usual treatment for this is Co-Codomol, a mixture of Codiene and Paracetemol. But regular use of this will get you severely constipated, so you’ll need to start taking an anti-constipatory drug to free you up.

Also, don’t be surprised if you become faecally incontinent.
This is because the enlarged prostate will eventually start to put pressure on the anal channel.

You’ll feel feel the urge for a shit, and halfway to the toilet, you’ll give in reluctantly to your body’s urges.

Again, not fun

And, with the way the NHS is being carved up, various bits of the NHS don’t share information with each other any more. The hospital treating you won’t have access to your GP’s notes on you.

And the GP’s themselves are under so much pressure these days, that it may take a week or so to get your repeat prescriptions filled for new catheters. Most pharmacies don’t stock them, so they have to be ordered in specially for each prescription.

So don’t be thinking of moving house without a good supply of catheters stokpiled, because it will be a nightmare getting your first prescription sorted with your new GP. You need to get registered asap after your move.

Stuff that I’ve found that works for me:

DO research all you can about the condition and its treatments

DO drink lots of water, at least 4 pints a day. This may seem counter-intuitive, but failure to drink an adequate supply of fluids will vastly increase your chance of developing a urinary infection. Frequent urinary infections are in fact usually the first symptoms you’ll experience as the condition develops. Drinking lots of water helps to flush through the bacteria that are normally present in the urinary system. If you don’t drink enough, your urine will become concentrated and dark. In extreme cases this can cause your kidneys to shut down or become infected.

However, the increased volume of urine passed may cause an increase in mineral expulsion leading to defincies in some vital minerals. My own experience of this has been an increase in the frequency, pain levels and duration in leg cramps. I have found that eating at least one preferably 2 bananas a day have helped to redress the balance, and an occasional glass of tonic water for its quinine content has also been beneficial.

DO drink cranberry juice, and look for good quality juice. Cranberry juice of itself is slightly bitter, so is often mixed with rasperry juice. This makes it taste nicer, but reduces the effectiveness. You can also buy cranberry extract supplements from health food shops or online.

DO try to cut down on consumption of coffee and strong alcoholic drinks. They are both bladder irritants. Fortunately, moderate quantities of beer can be quite beneficial.

For those who smoke marihuana, try to increase your daily liquid intake over and above the standard 4-pints a day minimum. This is because marihuana dehydrates you a lot more than other social stimulants.

And for those not using it, you might want to consider getting hold of a supply, for when the backache kicks in, as its been found to be a very effective and safe analgesic with few unpleasant or health-threatening side-effects, and it far outerperforms the standard prescription drugs in terms of effectivity in targetting the pain.

You might also like to consider trying other natural remedies. The main one is Saw Palmetto extract, which is avalable from health food shops or online. Also, pumpkin seeds, walnuts and brasil nuts are said to be helpful. Saw Palmetto is a tree native to the Southern US, and features in Native American medicine. It is claimed to be much more effective than the prescription drug cocktail that is routinely offered, and generally works out a lot cheaper too.

There are no easy solutions to this condition and there are times I feel like I’m floating on a storm-tide, just waiting to be smashed into the rocks onshore.

I’d welcome any other good tips

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