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Benign enlarged prostate: What can I do myself?

Last Update: January 15, 2014; Next update: 2017.

Many men over the age of 50 will know what it is like to have a frequent urge to urinate, and get up regularly at night to go to the toilet. These problems are usually caused by a benign enlarged prostate. Then it is often possible to manage them by simply changing a few everyday habits.

You can find more information on this topic in our feature. The gradual growth of the prostate gland is a normal part of aging in men. This usually does not have any noticeable effects. But in some men the gland grows so big that they have problems urinating: they have to go more often and more urgently, it takes longer for the urine to start flowing, and their urine flow is weaker. Urine may drip and leak after urinating too, and they might feel like their bladder is never really empty. The medical term for this group of symptoms is "benign prostatic hyperplasia" (BPH) or lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS).

Various strategies can make it easier to cope with an enlarged prostate in everyday life. These include:

  • Limiting the amount of fluids you drink in situations where needing to go to the toilet may be inconvenient, like before going to sleep or before going somewhere where you will not be in easy reach of a bathroom for some time. But it is important not to exaggerate. You still need to drink enough – especially whenever you are thirsty.
  • Avoiding drinks that are diuretics. These can increase the amount of urine released by the body. Diuretics include alcohol and drinks with caffeine in them (like green and black tea, coffee and cola) in particular.
  • Using what is called a double-voiding technique when you urinate: after urinating, you wait a moment and try again to see if more urine comes out. This increases the chances of emptying your bladder properly.
  • Doing exercises to train your bladder to hold more urine. For instance, practising holding on longer before urinating, and not going to the toilet as soon as you feel the need.

If a man who has prostate problems takes other medication too, it is a good idea to find out whether they perhaps make the body release more urine or affect the bladder muscles. Medications that do this include:

Your doctor or pharmacist can help determine whether you are taking this kind of medication, and whether there are alternatives that will not make your prostate problems worse.

Sources

  • Wilt TJ, N'Dow J. Benign prostatic hyperplasia. Part 2 Management. BMJ 2008; 336(7637): 206-210. [PMC free article: PMC2213816] [PubMed: 18219042]
  • IQWiG health information is written with the aim of helping people understand the advantages and disadvantages of the main treatment options and health care services.

    Because IQWiG is a German institute, some of the information provided here is specific to the German health care system. The suitability of any of the described options in an individual case can be determined by talking to a doctor. We do not offer individual consultations.

    Our information is based on the results of good-quality studies. It is written by a team of health care professionals, scientists and editors, and reviewed by external experts. You can find a detailed description of how our health information is produced and updated in our methods.

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