Medications for BPH

Medical management for benign prostatic hyperplasia (a non-cancerous enlarged prostate)

Our drug therapy options can help you manage an enlarged prostate and possibly avoid or delay surgery

Treating BPH with medication

The prostate is a walnut-sized gland near the neck of the bladder. An enlarged prostate or prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) puts pressure on the urethra (waterpipe) and can make it difficult for you to pass urine. If you've been diagnosed with BPH, your consultant may prescribe drugs to help you medically manage your symptoms. There are two types of drug:

- alpha blockers
- five-alpha-reductase inhibitors

Treating BPH with drugs can help to alleviate your symptoms if they aren't too bothersome. Occasionally, your consultant may prescribe both an alpha blocker and a five-alpha-reductase inhibitor. Medical management of BPH can also help you to avoid or postpone surgery.

Need to know

  • What types of medications are used to manage BPH? icon plus

    What are alpha blockers?

    Alpha blockers are able to relax certain muscles in the bladder and prostate. In doing so, they reduce pressure on the urethra, which in turn improves urine flow. Alpha blockers are not a cure for BPH. But, within six weeks, they can help to improve symptoms by 29-50% and flow rates by 20-30%.

    What are five alpha reductase inhibitors?

    Five-alpha-reductase inhibitors shrink the size of the prostate and, as a result, help to relieve urine obstruction. They do this by stopping the production of DHT, the enzyme needed for the prostate to grow. Five-alpha-reductase inhibitors can take up to six months to be effective.

  • Which drug is right for you and possible side effects icon plus

    Your consultant will explain which drug is right for you. They'll also explain any risks or side effects involved.

    The possible side effects of alpha blockers include:

    • tiredness
    • dizziness
    • headaches
    • dry mouth
    • erection
    • ejaculation problems
    • low blood pressure
    • weakness
    • upset stomach
    • nasal congestion

    The possible side effects of five-alpha-reductase inhibitors include:

    • erection and ejaculation problems
    • reduced sex drive.

    You may be asked to attend regular check-ups every three-to-six months while taking the medication. This lets us assess kidney function, symptom scores and the size of your prostate.

  • What are the outcomes for BPH medication? icon plus

    Drug treatments for BPH are not a cure and may need to be taken long-term. They also do not guarantee that you won't need further treatment or surgery at some time in the future.

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This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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