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My partner has an enlarged prostate. How can I help him?

Symptoms of an enlarged prostate become more common with age and 50% of men over the age of 50 experience them. These symptoms come on gradually and sometimes, it is not the person suffering from the problem who sees the first signs.


Don’t let him ignore the symptoms

One of the first things you might notice is that your partner has to get up at night to urinate – he wakes you up and you stay awake whilst he tumbles back into bed and sleeps soundly. Also, he may need the toilet more frequently during the day, interrupting days out and travelling.

Our article on enlarged prostate symptoms will help you better understand what your partner is going through and both of you might also be interested in our Enlarged Prostate Symptom Check page.

If you think that an enlarged prostate is a possibility, encourage him to have the diagnosis confirmed by a doctor. Experience suggests that this may not be easy as men generally prefer to ignore their health problems.

However, many cases of prostate enlargement can be easily treated, and if attended to early, the need for more inconvenient forms of treatment (such as surgery) may be avoided. Also, it will be worth pointing out that the enlarged prostate and prostate cancer are quite different conditions.

A visit to the doctor should be a simple affair and in most cases, a diagnosis can be made from the history alone. However, to exclude serious conditions, a doctor may recommend an internal examination of the prostate gland (through the back passage) and blood tests.

Treating the problem

Once the diagnosis is made, a decision on what to do next will need to be made. Treatment options for an enlarged prostate can range from ‘doing nothing’, to prescribed medicines and surgery.

Each option will have its place and decisions will be made depending on the severity of symptoms and the potential for the treatment to lead to side effects.

For more information, read our article on enlarged prostate treatment.

The use of Saw Palmetto to treat an enlarged prostate is gaining popularity in Canada. However, its use is well below the level seen in European countries such as Switzerland and Germany, where these medicines are routinely prescribed by doctors to treat the symptoms seen during the early stages of an enlarged prostate.

How can Saw Palmetto help him?

Saw Palmetto is a small shrub which grows mainly in Florida. The plant produces berries similar in shape and size to olives, rich in plant oil, including a specific compound known as β-sistosterol. It is the oil from the berries which is used medicinally to treat an enlarged prostate.

In Canada, the Department of Health has granted licences to Saw Palmetto products which have been manufactured to pharmaceutical standards, for the treatment of symptoms of an enlarged prostate.

Saw Palmetto may be used in the following ways:

  • as an alternative to the ‘watchful waiting’ approach
  • If the patient wishes to avoid the use of prescribed medication
  • to help improve symptoms before surgery
  • to help relieve symptoms that have returned after surgery

It should not be used if other types of prostate medication (α-blockers and 5-α-reductase inhibitors) are already being taken.

If your partner wishes to use Saw Palmetto, there is no requirement for him to speak to his doctor or pharmacist first. However, read the leaflet found inside each pack of licensed Saw Palmetto.

It is always good for your doctor to be aware of what one is doing. This can sometimes be difficult as not all doctors agree with, or are sympathetic to the use of herbal remedies.

What do you think?

Have you found what you read useful? If so, I would love if you would leave your comment below. Thanks Sonia Chartier

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