As we get older, certain bodily functions, like going to the bathroom, can become more difficult.

In men, one cause of difficulty urinating is the natural enlargement of the prostate, or benign prostate hypertrophy (BPH). At MU Health Care, our board-certified urologists can treat BPH with a nonsurgical procedure.

What is Benign Prostate Hypertrophy?

BPH is the most common urinary tract condition in men older than 50, according to the National Institutes of Health. As the name suggests, benign means the enlargement is not caused by cancer.

Up to 80% of men will experience an enlarged prostate at some point in their life, and BPH and affects approximately half of men 51-60. Although it is not a life-threatening issue by itself, it can have a dramatic effect on quality of life.

If you are completely unable to urinate, seek medical attention at once.

The most common side effects of BPH develop because of a narrowed urethra or overworked bladder, and include:

  • Urinating frequently (eight or more times) during waking hours or sleep (nocturia)
  • Difficulty urinating or beginning to urinate
  • Urgency, or lack of control of urinary stream
  • Pain during urination or ejaculation
  • Urinary retention

BPH is diagnosed based upon age, family history, physical examination and testing.

How We Treat BPH

BPH can be successfully managed with several approaches, including lifestyle changes, medication and other forms of noninvasive or surgical treatment.

If you are diagnosed with BPH, our team of urologists will work with you to review your history and symptoms, as well as recommend a treatment that best fits your lifestyle.

Water Vapor Therapy

One form of treatment is the nonsurgical use of water vapor. This one-time procedure uses water vapor pressure to remove excess prostate tissue, shrinking the prostate gland to restore normal urinary function. The treatment takes about an hour and patients can return home right after it is completed.

This treatment is approved for use in men 50 and older who have been diagnosed with BPH.

Benefits of Water Vapor Therapy

Because water vapor therapy is nonsurgical, it removes the risk of general anesthesia found in all surgical procedures. This makes it an ideal treatment in men who have other conditions that make operating too risky, such as those who are on supplemental oxygen.

It also uses catheterization and local anesthetic, rather than an incision, which means the risk of infection or excess bleeding is greatly reduced.

Water vapor therapy offers immediate relief after swelling goes down. It also may prevent the loss of sexual function found in some procedures that treat conditions of the urinary tract and prostate.