Have an Enlarged Prostate? Here's a Guide to Medicines That Help

man in doctor's office with prostate problems
man in doctor's office with prostate problems

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Medically Reviewed By:
Mark Arredondo, M.D.

Imagine feeling the constant urge to urinate, but when you try, nothing comes out. Frustrating, right?

This is a common experience for people with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), where the walnut-sized prostate gland begins to enlarge, putting pressure on the urethra. While BPH isn't cancerous, according to the Cleveland Clinic, the symptoms of an enlarged prostate are often distressing. Let's explore the medications available to alleviate the symptoms.

Benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate) medications

Gone are the days when surgery was the primary recourse to relieve the symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). In recent years, the landscape has transformed as pharmaceutical companies have introduced a range of benign prostatic hyperplasia medications.

According to board-certified urologist Dr. David Lee, from UCI Health, “The first line of therapy is usually in the form of medication taken by mouth daily. There are two main classes of medication. The most commonly used class are the alpha-1 blockers, including Flomax, Hytrin, Cardura, Uroxatral and Rapaflo. These medications act to relax smooth muscle tissue, and by relaxing this tissue around the area of the junction of the prostate to the bladder, the urine can usually pass through more easily.”

“The second class of medications, called 5 alpha-reductase inhibitors, cause the prostate to gradually shrink over time [Proscar and Avodart]. This effect may take several months to reach the point that it can make a difference. Both of these medications have potential side effects, so patients should have a detailed discussion about these as they consider starting them.”

According to the Cleveland Clinic, standard options include:

Tamsulosin (Flomax)

Tamsulosin is an alpha-blocker medication designed to alleviate the symptoms caused by an enlarged prostate. Relaxing the muscles in both the prostate and bladder facilitates smoother urine flow, making urination easier and more comfortable for those with BPH symptoms.

It is crucial to report certain side effects to your care team immediately. These can include allergic reactions like skin rash, itching, hives or swelling of the lips, tongue, face or throat. Symptoms of low blood pressure, such as dizziness, blurry vision, or feeling faint or lightheaded, should also be promptly communicated. Additionally, if you experience a prolonged or painful erection, contact your health care provider.

Terazosin (Hytrin)

Terazosin is a versatile oral medication for treating high blood pressure and BPH.

Promptly notify your health care provider if you experience any concerning side effects, such as allergic reactions (skin rash, itching, hives or swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat), low blood pressure symptoms (dizziness, feeling faint or lightheaded, blurry vision) or a prolonged or painful erection.

Doxazosin (Cardura)

Doxazosin, an oral alpha blocker medication, treats both high blood pressure and BPH. Relaxing blood vessels reduces the workload on the heart while easing the muscles in the prostate and bladder, improving urinary flow.

Notify your care team immediately if you experience any of the following side effects: allergic reactions such as skin rash, itching or hives, or you notice swelling on the face, lips, tongue or throat; angina (characterized by pain, pressure or tightness in the chest, neck, back or arms); symptoms of low blood pressure such as dizziness, feeling faint or lightheaded, or blurry vision; or prolonged or painful erection.

Alfuzosin (Uroxatral)

Alfuzosin, available as an extended-release tablet, works by relaxing the muscles in both the prostate and bladder. This may make it easier to urinate.

It is essential to promptly notify your care team if you experience any potential side effects, including allergic reactions such as swelling of the face, tongue, lips or throat; skin rash, itching, hives or angina pain (pressure or tightness in the chest, neck, back or arms); symptoms of low blood pressure like dizziness, feeling faint or lightheaded or blurry vision; or a prolonged or painful erection.

Silodosin (Rapaflo)

Silodosin is a medication that aids in the relaxation of prostate and bladder muscles, potentially improving urine flow and reducing associated symptoms.

If you experience any of the following symptoms after taking this medication, speak to your health care provider promptly: chills, cold sweats, confusion, dizziness or a sudden feeling of faintness or lightheadedness upon standing up from a lying or sitting position.

Prostate medication to reduce the production of DHT (dihydrotestosterone)

Per the Cleveland Clinic, certain enlarged prostate medications are designed to reduce dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone that contributes to prostate gland growth. By inhibiting DHT production, these medications may effectively slow down prostate gland enlargement.

Finasteride (Proscar)

Finasteride is an enlarged prostate medication that reduces the size of the prostate. It belongs to a class of medications called 5-alpha reductase inhibitors.

Report any potential side effects to your health care provider, including allergic reactions such as skin rash, itching, hives or swelling of the face, lips, tongue or throat, as well as breast tissue changes, such as new lumps, pain, redness or nipple discharge.

Dutasteride (Avodart)

Dutasteride is taken in capsule form and reduces the size of the prostate. It belongs to a class of medications known as 5-alpha reductase inhibitors.

Promptly inform your care team if you experience any potential side effects, including allergic reactions such as skin rash, itching, hives or swelling of the face, lips, tongue or throat, as well as breast tissue changes, such as new lumps, redness, pain or discharge from the nipple.

If you're experiencing painful or frustrating BPH symptoms, work with your health care provider to find a solution. There are more treatment options now than ever before.

SOURCE: David Lee, MD, urologist, UCI Health, Orange County, Calif.

What This Means For You

Having an enlarged prostate doesn't mean going under the knife anymore. There are many medications that may help.

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