The prostate is a walnut-sized gland underneath the bladder. It’s part of the male reproductive system, responsible for releasing a fluid that will combine with sperm and produce semen. Sometimes, this gland can get bigger and cause problems. Many people wonder if there is a connection between an enlarged prostate and ED.
Erectile dysfunction can occur due to various reasons. It can even be a sign of prostate cancer. So it’s reasonable to worry about sexual function when the prostate doubles in size. So does an enlarged prostate cause erectile dysfunction? Continue reading to learn more about the connection between the two conditions.
What Is BPH?
Prostate enlargement, not due to cancer, is called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). It’s a common condition that affects most men as they age. Since the prostate is located beneath the bladder and surrounds the urethra, it causes various urinary problems when it gets bigger. An enlarged prostate may also cause ED and other sexual problems.
Causes of BPH
The exact reasons for BPH are unknown, but potential factors are:
- Family history
- Hormonal changes
- Other diseases like diabetes
Age is the main factor here, as over 90% of men over 80 experience BPH.
Symptoms of BPH
As we mentioned, the prostate gland surrounds the urethra. This tube leads urine out of the body. When the prostate gets bigger, it gets blocked, causing various urinary symptoms such as:
- Frequent urination
- Difficulty urinating
- Weaker urine stream
- Sudden urge to urinate
- Urinary tract infections and bladder stones
- Needing to wake up during the night to go to the bathroom
Effects of an Enlarged Prostate on Sexual Health
An enlarged prostate can also be associated with ED and other sexual problems. The main question is how does an enlarged prostate cause erectile dysfunction. So let’s take a closer look at each of the sexual side effects of BPH.
BPH does not cause ejaculatory issues on its own. It’s the treatments for BPH that can sometimes cause ejaculatory dysfunction. For instance, finasteride and dutasteride can prevent men from ejaculating or cause the ejaculate to go into the bladder rather than the penis.
Studies show a strong correlation between BPH and sex drive. This condition can lower your libido significantly due to the general feeling of stress and anxiety it causes. Talking to a sex therapist can help you overcome this anxiety and improve your sex drive.
There is a connection between an enlarged prostate and ED. Erectile dysfunction is when you can’t get or maintain an erection to enjoy sexual intercourse. This condition can affect men at any age. However, it becomes more prevalent with age. Similar to BPH, it can lower the quality of your life and your self-confidence.
So how are an enlarged prostate and erectile dysfunction connected?
How Does an Enlarged Prostate Cause Erectile Dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction and BPH are separate but connected conditions. While ED can happen due to various physical or psychological issues like diabetes and stress, it can get much worse by BPH. However, an enlarged prostate doesn’t directly cause ED. Enlarged prostate and ED connect through the medications used to treat BPH.
These medications can affect one’s ability to obtain and maintain an erection while lowering sex drive. If the meds fail to treat prostate enlargement, doctors may suggest surgery. The surgical procedure involves removing a part of the prostate tissue causing BPH. Studies show that this surgical treatment can also cause ED in several patients.
However, not all treatments for BPH will cause ED. For instance, Rezūm Water Vapor Thermal Therapy is a minimally invasive treatment that effectively improves symptoms of BPH without causing erectile dysfunction. So it’s crucial to consult your doctor and learn about the link between various treatments for enlarged prostate and ED to avoid side effects.
Benefits of ED Medications for BPH
An enlarged prostate doesn’t directly cause erectile dysfunction but can benefit from the medications used to treat this condition. While no ED medications have been approved for BPH, studies show that some supplements will improve your health by improving your symptoms. Some ED meds that have successfully helped patients manage symptoms of BPH include:
For instance, a 2008 study examined the effects of vardenafil in middle-aged men with BPH. After eight weeks of treatment, vardenafil significantly improved their symptoms. Another study in 2011 evaluated the effectiveness of tadalafil and found significant improvements in symptoms associated with enlarged prostates and ED.
While these medications can be helpful, they also have side effects that make them unsuitable for patients with a history of heart disease and high blood pressure. Therefore, you should thoroughly discuss BPH treatment options with your doctor before taking any medications.
When to See a Doctor
Dealing with erectile dysfunction is challenging. Battling with BPH at the same time will make matters even worse. So it’s best to visit a doctor as soon as you notice any symptoms of the two conditions, even though you know that an enlarged prostate doesn’t directly cause erectile dysfunction.
Even if you don’t notice any symptoms of an enlarged prostate and ED, the American Cancer Society recommends you get a prostate check if you belong to one of the following groups:
- Age 50 with an average risk of prostate cancer
- Age 45 with a high risk of prostate cancer
- Age 40 with a higher risk of prostate cancer
A checkup can help the doctor rule out cancer as the cause of your prostate enlargement.
Treatment for BPH can include any of the following:
- Medications like terazosin and tamulosin
- Surgical options like transurethral resection of the prostate
- Lifestyle changes like avoiding alcohol and trying kegel exercises
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