Though it is common for men to have concurrent cases of enlarged prostate (aka BPH) and erectile dysfunction (ED), there is no cause-and-effect relationship between the two. It also doesn’t mean that if you have one problem, you must have the other as well.
What is erectile dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is when a man can’t get or keep an erection. It can stem from several factors, including:
- Psychological concerns - Anxiety, depression, stress, poor sleep, relationship concerns, and/or low confidence, etc.
- Physical causes - Vascular problems (high blood pressure or poor blood flow), imbalanced hormones, lowered nitric oxide, damage to pelvic area, clogged arteries, and diabetes, etc.
Your brain, blood vessels, hormones, nerves, psyche, and muscles need to work together for an erection to occur. If one part of the process isn’t functioning properly, an erection simply does not and will not happen.
But none of these have to do with the prostate. The prostate isn’t part of the erection process (it’s part of the sperm-making process) so why are BPH and erectile dysfunction linked?
What is BPH?
A part of the male reproductive system, the prostate is a walnut-shaped gland that makes fluid that goes into semen. The prostate sits in front of the rectum just below the bladder and surrounds the urethra at the neck of the bladder. Throughout life, most men experience continued growth of the prostate although it isn't entirely clear what causes the prostate to enlarge. Scientific studies suggest that the enlargement may occur because of changing hormone levels as men age.
Although the prostate function is sexual in nature, the enlargement of the prostate upsets the urinary tract due to the proximity to the urethra and bladder. When the prostate enlarges with a benign tumor, it tends to block the urethra from which you urinate and ejaculate.
This is the primary link between BPH and sexual dysfunction. Even though BPH primarily influences the urinary tract, this is the same tract that semen comes out of. This indicates there is also some sort of concern with sexual health and ejaculation as well. But read on for a deeper understanding of this connection.
What are some other links between BPH and ED?
There are two major links between these two independent concerns:
- The accepted causes of BPH are also common causes of ED, such as age, poor sleep, stress, heart disease, and diabetes.
- Common treatments for BPH, including hormone blockers and invasive prostate surgeries, often hold erectile dysfunction as the most prevalent side effect.
So, what can you do about this? How can you overcome your symptoms of BPH and ED easily, quickly, safely, and effectively?
This would mean us looking at your risk factors and making lifestyle changes accordingly. Common causes of BPH and ED that you should consider and discuss with Dr. Toubin include:
- Aging - BPH is the most common prostate problem for men older than age 50.
- Family history - Having a blood relative, such as a father or a brother, with prostate problems increases your risk.
- Medical conditions - Your risk also increases with type 2 diabetes, heart and circulatory diseases, and obesity. An additional risk accompanies taking medications for these conditions.
- Lifestyle and Mental Health – Obesity, stress, anxiety, and depression increase your risk. Physical activity lowers your risk.
Treating symptoms of BPH and erectile dysfunction
If you’re dealing with BPH and ED, you might feel overwhelmed running to the bathroom and unable to enjoy the sexual pleasures of life. And lifestyle changes take time. Below are a few tips to reduce your suffering in the meantime, while you attack the root causes of your ED and BPH problems.
- Reduce your intake of fluids, especially after dinner.
- Talk to your doctor about anticholinergic medications like antihistamines and antidepressants. These weaken bladder contractions, so it can be a challenge to control your symptoms.
- Talk to your doctor about blood pressure or heart medications, which are usually diuretics.
- Avoid medications that stimulate your muscles, like pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) and other decongestants.
- Clear the path from your bed to the bathroom so you don’t hurt yourself in the middle of the night.
- Always use the bathroom when you feel the urge.
- Exercise! Sweating can help reduce the urge to go to the bathroom. It can also help maintain a healthy body weight, reduce stress, and lower anxiety—all of which may be causing your BPH and ED.
If you’re suffering from urinary and sexual symptoms, it’s time to talk with Dr. Toubin of DFWbph . We can discuss how treatment for BPH will influence your ED and vice versa.