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Prostate Q & A: Nutrition advice, warning signs and what to expect after surgery

June 14, 2017

David Guthman, M.D., board-certified urologist

Do prostate supplements work?

Dr. David Guthman

In general, healthy nutrition is good for your prostate. Some researchers have looked at specific supplements, such as pine needles and lycopene. And while research has indicated they may be good for you, they don’t substitute a well-balanced, nutritious diet full of fruits, vegetables and antioxidants. Studies have also been done on male herbal supplements and have never shown to be better than the placebo (a non-medicine treatment) effect. But I advise men who are taking vitamins to consult their doctor before they stop taking them.

How common is BPH? What problems does it cause?
How is it treated?

When men have benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH, they complain of slow stream, weak force, incomplete emptying, frequency of urination in the day time and night time. Ultimately, if it isn’t treated, men can complain they can’t urinate, or they may have bladder infections or stones. All of those are signs of obstruction.

By the time they are in their 50s or 60s, the majority of men will have outlet obstruction or blockage at the base of the bladder. There are many options for treating BPH, such as simple oral medications in pill form that have limited side effects. These medications work uniquely on the prostate by relaxing or shrinking the prostate. There are also outpatient surgical procedures that open up the urinary tract, including new laser procedures such as GreenLight Laser PVP (photoselective vaporization of the prostate). In comparison to the old-fashioned transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) procedure long used to treat BPH, the new laser procedures are much more advanced, have a lower risk of side effects, fewer complications and bring almost immediate relief of the bladder’s obstruction.

What should men who undergo prostate cancer surgery (a prostatectomy) expect after they recover from the procedure?

The good news is most men resume a nearly normal life. It’s not a change in the quality of their lives. More than 50 percent of men will have normal erectile function following surgery, without assistance. And, up to 90 percent of men can have normal erections with medications to assist them (e.g., Cialis®, Viagra®). There’s a rare risk of urinary difficulties of urine leakage, but it’s usually in men with high risk, neurologic disease or prior pelvic surgery. So, the risk of incontinence is very low and the risk of erection loss is minimal. Most men, within six to eight weeks of the procedure, resume a completely normal lifestyle and are back to the sports and physical activities they typically engage in and enjoy.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Guthman or another urologist on staff, call 847-618-3800.