Prostate problems? Consider using steam to banish your urinary woes
By DR ALLEN SIM
Water vapour therapy allows for steam to be distributed across the targeted prostate area, reducing the size of the enlarged prostate and allowing urine to flow easily. — Images: Handout
A healthy prostate is an important aspect of a
man’s overall health, as this walnut-sized gland plays an integral role in the reproductive
As men age, so does their prostate.
For some men, this can pose a problem as an ageing prostate could affect their quality of life and restrict their time spent outside of their homes with friends and family.
An enlarged prostate could cause various issues such as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a relatively common condition faced by older men.
BPH can be treated in various ways such as medication, surgery, or minimally invasive procedures such as water vapour therapy.
Water vapour therapy is a treatment option available for patients suffering from BPH conditions, especially those who want to avoid surgery or are worried about the side effects of medications.
Before delving more into what water vapour
therapy is, let’s krst understand what is BPH.
A male problem
As its name says, BPH is a non-cancerous condition often faced by men aged 50 and above.
It is a condition where a man’s prostate enlarges, squeezing the urethra which is a narrow tube that runs through the centre of the prostate, making urination uncomfortable or difficult.
Globally, about 30 million men have symptoms related to BPH.
Caused by ageing and prolonged exposure to testosterone, maintaining a healthy lifestyle including regular exercise and a good diet may help with BPH.
According to the 2019 National Health and Morbidity Survey, about 16.3 % of Malaysian men aged 40 and above probably have BPH with moderate to severe symptoms.
This includes urinary retention, frequent urination, a slow flow or dribbling urine, the need to urinate urgently, difficulty in starting to urinate, and blood in the urine.
To understand the severity of the condition, men must consult their physician to determine the kind of treatment required.
This will help in better managing BPH, which may be restricting them from living a normal life.
An early diagnosis is vital, because if left
untreated, it can lead to urinary tract infections (UTI), bladder or kidney
damage, bladder stones, and in some cases, incontinence.
An early diagnosis is vital, because if left untreated, it can lead to urinary tract infections (UTI), bladder or kidney damage, bladder stones, and in some cases, incontinence.
If you answered yes to all the questions, you probably have an enlarged prostate.
How is BPH treated?
The treatment for BPH depends on the severity of the symptoms and the size of the enlarged prostate.
Treatment options to manage this condition include medication, laser treatment, surgery and minimally invasive procedures, such as microwave thermodilatation, or water vapour therapy.
Medication is considered the primary care treatment and it is commonly prescribed for patients with mild to moderate symptoms.
Examples of medication are alpha-blockers, 5-alpha reductase inhibitors (5-ARIs), and Phosphodiesterase-5 Inhibitors (PDE5).
Alpha-blockers help to relax the muscles of the urinary tract, bladder and prostate to allow urine to flow more freely while 5-ARIs help block the hormone that can cause prostate growth.
Another medication that may be prescribed is PDE5 inhibitors to regulate smooth muscle tone in the prostate.
Meanwhile, patients who do not want to take medications can instead opt for surgical treatments such as the transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) or minimally invasive procedures such as water vapour therapy.
Without proper treatment, BPH could cause further blockage in the urethra and lead to possible worsening of symptoms.
For some, it may cause UTI, bladder stones, blood in urine and kidney damage due to urine backflow from the bladder to the kidney, which increases pressure on the kidney.
Using water vapour
Water vapour therapy is a minimally invasive procedure that uses water vapour to reduce the size of the prostate; it is safe and effective.
It is a treatment option provided for patients who do not want to do surgery or take BPH medication.
Water vapour therapy can be performed quickly under local or regional anaesthesia during the doctor’s appointment.
During each nine-second treatment, sterile water vapour is released throughout the targeted prostate tissue.
When the steam comes into contact with the prostate tissue, all the stored energy is released into the tissue, causing spontaneous cell death in the prostate transitional zone.
The number of treatments needed will be determined by the doctor based on the size of a patient’s prostate.
What will happen is, over time, the body’s natural healing response will reabsorb the treated tissue or dead tissues, slowly shrinking the prostate.
With the extra tissue being removed, the urethra opens and relieves the symptoms of BPH.
According to the American Urological Association, water vapour therapy significantly reduces the symptoms of BPH such as lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) and improves urinary flow rate.
These improvements can be sustained up to five years after treatment.
An image of an enlarged prostate, often known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).