Medication can help alleviate the symptoms of an enlarged prostate, also called benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH, with many men relying on these drugs to improve their physical symptoms and mental and emotional well-being. This condition can block the urethra and prevent urine from flowing as it should. However, a recent study suggests that for many men these medications don’t work — and may even cause adverse effects. Read on to learn more about the pros and cons of BPH medications and what you need to know before starting on prescription medication for your BPH.

About the Study

The study was conducted by researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine and appeared in the journal Endocrine Reviews and Metabolic disorders. The researchers found that the BPH drugs Finasteride or Dutasteride didn’t provide any benefits to 25 percent of men taking them. These medications are also known as Proscar and Avodart and are classified as 5-alpha reductase inhibitors.

About 5-Alpha Reductase Inhibitors

There are two types of BPH drugs: alpha blockers and 5-alpha reductase inhibitors. Alpha blockers relax the prostate muscles so urine can begin flowing freely again, and they typically provide immediate relief. 5-alpha reductase inhibitors shrink the prostate, but may take several months to relieve symptoms.

Adverse Effects of 5-Alpha Reductase Inhibitors

The researchers uncovered several adverse effects associated with 5-alpha reductase inhibitors. They include sexual side effects such as erectile dysfunction and loss of libido, as well as other complications such as depression, cognitive dysfunction and resistance to insulin. For some patients, the unwanted effects continue even after they stop taking the drug.

Side Effects of BPH Medications

As with any medication, drugs for BPH have some potential side effects. 5-alpha reductase inhibitors, for example, can cause a decrease in sexual desire, difficulty having an erection, and reduced semen volume. They can also affect the results of PSA tests, or prostate-specific antigen tests, which are used in diagnosing prostate conditions.

Treatment Options for BPH

You have a wide range of choices when it comes to treating your BPH. In addition to the medications discussed above, there’s transurethral microwave thermotherapy, transurethral needle ablation, hot water delivered via a catheter, and several types of surgery, including transuretheral resection of the prostate, transuretheral incision of the prostate, laser surgery, and open simple prostatectomy. Each of these procedures comes with its own advantages and disadvantages, so speak at length with your doctor about which one is right for you.

If you have questions about BPH or concerns about your treatment options, consult Las Vegas urologist Dr. Lawrence Newman today. Our knowledgeable and caring staff can address your concerns and create a treatment plan to bring you relief from your symptoms.