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King Charles Has Enlarged Prostate: What Is it and How Is it Treated?

If you’re an older man, you’ve probably experienced it. You're engrossed in a movie when suddenly, you feel that pressure in your bladder. The urge to urinate interrupts, sometimes yielding little relief, sometimes requiring effort. This can even disrupt your sleep.

Britain’s King Charles likely had similar symptoms before revealing plans for a hospital visit to have a “corrective procedure” for his enlarged prostate.

It’s among the most common ailments affecting older men. Also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia, this condition isn’t life threatening. But it can significantly impact your quality of life.

The typically walnut-sized prostate is part of the male reproductive system, responsible for producing a fluid that nourishes sperm. It is located in front of the bladder and above the rectum.

As men age, factors like family history, lifestyle and hormonal changes can cause the prostate to enlarge. It is estimated that half of all men have an enlarged prostate by age 60. Growth can vary widely, but in extreme cases it can expand to the size of a baseball.

Problems arise when it’s time to urinate. Urine is produced in your kidneys before traveling to your bladder for storage. It leaves your body through the urethra, which passes through your prostate. As the prostate enlarges, it can hinder that urine flow.

Symptoms of Enlarged Prostate

An estimated 40 million men in the U.S. have an enlarged prostate. Many may not even realize it because symptoms increase slowly over time. The size of the prostate does not always correlate with the symptoms. Symptoms can be severe for someone with a minor enlargement, while someone with a substantial enlargement can experience minor issues.

Among the symptoms:

  • Weak or intermittent urine stream
  • Inability to completely empty your bladder
  • Increased urgency and frequent need to urinate
  • Difficulty starting to urinate
  • Dribbling at the end of urination

Enlarged Prostate Treatments

There are several surgical and nonsurgical treatment options available. Decisions are based on factors that include your age, overall health, size of your prostate and severity of symptoms. For mild to moderate symptoms, medications are often the preferred treatment. If drugs don’t work, there are other options, including:

  • Open prostatectomy: Rarely performed today, this invasive procedure involves an incision in the lower abdomen to remove part of the prostate. It’s usually reserved for extremely large prostates and carries a higher risk of complications, like bleeding and infection.
  • Transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP): With this less invasive option, a scope is inserted through the urethra to trim away excess prostate tissue with bipolar energy. It improves urinary symptoms with a shorter recovery time but has risks like bleeding and potential effects on sexual function. This procedure can also be done using a laser (holmium laser) or robotic technology.
  • Prostate lift (UroLift system): This minimally invasive procedure uses small implants to lift and hold enlarged prostate tissue to clear the urine blockage. It's quick, has a short recovery time and a lower risk of sexual dysfunction.
  • Steam vaporization (Rezūm therapy): This minimally invasive treatment uses steam to destroy excess prostate cells. It's effective, with a low risk of side effects and a quick return to normal activities.
  • Prostate embolization: The procedure decreases the prostate’s size by limiting the amount of blood it receives.

Be Vigilant

Just like many men experiencing these symptoms, King Charles's decision to undergo prostate surgery likely stemmed from a need for relief and improvement in quality of life. His situation highlights the importance of paying attention to these symptoms.

If you notice changes in your urination patterns, especially at night, you should tell your doctor. Prostate health is a key aspect of men’s health, and advancements in treatment options offer hope and solutions to those affected. There’s no reason to let an enlarged prostate get in the way of your enjoyment of life.

It is important to note that an enlarged prostate is not associated with prostate cancer and does not increase the risk. However, it can make prostate cancer screening more challenging. So, regular check-ups and discussions with your doctor are crucial for a comprehensive approach to prostate health.

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