Medicines are sometimes used to help relieve bothersome, moderate to severe urination problems caused by benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). If you stop using medicine, the symptoms will usually return.
The American Urological Association (AUA) symptom index is an interactive questionnaire that can help you determine how bad your urinary symptoms are and check how well your treatment is working. But the most important thing in deciding whether to use medicines is not your AUA score but how much the symptoms bother you and affect your quality of life. A high score on the AUA does not necessarily mean you need medicines.
In general, the side effects of the most commonly used medicines are minor. And the side effects stop when you stop taking the medicine.
- Alpha-blockers, such as terazosin (Hytrin), relieve symptoms within a few weeks but do not stop the process of prostate enlargement.
- 5-alpha reductase inhibitors, such as dutasteride (Avodart) or finasteride (Proscar), may reduce the size of an enlarged prostate but may take 6 months or more to show any effect on symptoms.
- Using a combination of an alpha-blocker with a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor long-term may help your symptoms more than either medicine alone.3
- Phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE-5) inhibitors, such as tadalafil (Cialis), may help reduce BPH symptoms whether or not you have erection problems. PDE-5 inhibitors are well known medicines for erection problems.4
What to think about
Alpha-blockers and 5-alpha reductase inhibitors affect different prostate tissues. How much your symptoms improve may depend on which tissue is contributing most to your symptoms. None of these medicines work for everyone.