Many men suffering from the symptoms of an enlarged prostate (known in medical circles as Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia, or simply BPH) try to reduce their water intake in order to reduce the number of times they have to visit the bathroom. While this seems like a logical solution, it could actually be making your symptoms worse! Find out why drinking MORE water might help your symptoms.
What causes constant trips to the toilet?
As the prostate gland swells, it can put pressure on the bladder, reducing the volume of urine the bladder is able to hold, meaning that you need to urinate more frequently. In fact, sometimes just moving a certain way can suddenly increase the pressure on your bladder, causing a sudden urge to urinate. When you do go, you often find that little comes out—that’s because there isn’t very much in there to start with!
Why do some men try to cut back on water intake?
After what seems like the millionth bathroom trip of the day, the idea suddenly dawns on you: if you cut down on your water intake, there won’t be enough in your bladder to trigger the urge to pee! Right?
While this seems obvious, the opposite is true. What you'll probably find is that as you drink less and less, the sudden urges to run to the bathroom increase. Why is this, and why might drinking more water solve the problem?
Why drinking less water won’t help
As you cut back on water, the urine that does build up in your bladder becomes concentrated and can begin to irritate the bladder. As a result, you feel like peeing, even though there isn’t very much in your bladder. And since there’s very little in there, you may notice that when you do rush to the bathroom, very little comes out, and your pee stream is weak.
Worse still, this concentrated urine is the perfect place for bacteria to breed, so if you go to the bathroom and experience a weak flow, you might end up with some urine still left in the bladder, which can easily lead to a bladder infection, and that’s bad news!
Why drinking more water can help reduce your symptoms
Increasing your water intake will lead to less concentrated urine, and because this dilute pee is much less irritating to the bladder, it can actually store more urine at any given time. The resulting increased volume in the bladder means that when you do go, there is more pressure pushing the urine out, resulting in a stronger stream of urine and a greater chance of fully emptying the bladder.
And drinking more water can have other positive effects. Staying fully hydrated can help prevent constipation because your body won’t need to reabsorb as much water from the large intestine. As you can imagine, the prostate sits fairly close to the colon, so a full colon will put extra pressure on the prostate and subsequently on the bladder. As a result, constipation is thought to worsen your enlarged prostate symptoms.
So as long as you don’t suddenly start drinking litres and litres, a gradual increase in water intake can really help. Try to up your water intake slowly over a couple of weeks, aiming for around two litres a day by the end.
What else can you do for your enlarged prostate?
If you increase your water intake and find that after a few weeks you’re still rushing to the bathroom too often, then cutting down on water again definitely isn’t the answer! Your body needs that water for a huge number of functions, from metabolizing energy from food to transporting nutrients to the brain and muscles. Your kidneys will become very stressed without enough water, which can cause pain, damage and even infection.
Instead, look at other ways of minimizing your prostate symptoms while keeping your water intake at a sufficient level:
- Increasing your zinc intake can really help, so eat plenty of pumpkin seeds!
- Avoid inflammatory foods such as red meat, dairy products, alcohol, sugar and refined carbohydrates, which can all worsen symptoms.
- Eat lots of whole foods like whole-wheat pasta, wholegrain bread, brown rice, oats and quinoa, as well as plenty of nuts, seeds and fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Exercise! Keeping active is thought to be beneficial—men who exercise more regularly are less likely to develop the condition.
- If your water intake isn’t helping your symptoms, then a herbal remedy like our own Prostate 1 saw palmetto capsules might be a good idea. These capsules are approved for the relief of enlarged prostate symptoms and aren’t associated with the negative side-effects that often accompany more conventional treatment methods.