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Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) (cont.)

Medications

Medicines are sometimes used to help relieve bothersome, moderate to severe urination problems caused by benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). If you stop using medicine, the symptoms will usually return.

The American Urological Association (AUA) symptom indexClick here to see an interactive tool. is an interactive questionnaire that can help you determine how bad your urinary symptoms are and check how well your treatment is working. But the most important thing in deciding whether to use medicines is not your AUA score but how much the symptoms bother you and affect your quality of life. A high score on the AUA does not necessarily mean you need medicines.

In general, the side effects of the most commonly used medicines are minor. And the side effects stop when you stop taking the medicine.

Click here to view a Decision Point.Enlarged Prostate: Should I Take Medicine?

Medication Choices

  • Alpha-blockers, such as terazosin (Hytrin), relieve symptoms within a few weeks but do not stop the process of prostate enlargement.
  • 5-alpha reductase inhibitors, such as dutasteride (Avodart) or finasteride (Proscar), may reduce the size of an enlarged prostate but may take 6 months or more to show any effect on symptoms.
  • Using a combination of an alpha-blocker with a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor may help your symptoms more than either medicine alone.3

What To Think About

Alpha-blockers and 5-alpha reductase inhibitors affect different prostate tissues. How much your symptoms improve may depend on which tissue is contributing most to your symptoms. None of these medicines will work for everyone.

Alpha-blockers may help symptoms caused by a blockage at the opening to the bladder. With this type of obstruction, you may have a hard time starting to urinate, and you may have a weak urine stream. Alpha-blockers relax the smooth muscle tissue in the prostate and the opening to the bladder. This muscle tissue must relax to allow urine to flow.

5-alpha reductase inhibitors can reduce the size of your prostate and can slow the rate of enlargement. Men with smaller prostates see less benefit than those with larger prostates. Men who have only slightly enlarged prostates usually find alpha-blockers more helpful.

5-alpha reductase inhibitors may cause you to have less desire to have sex (decreased libido).

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