In some cases, medication(s) may be prescribed to help deal with the symptoms of BPH although medication may not be suitable for all men. There are 2 types of medication that can be used; inhibitors and blockers

Inhibitors (also known as 5-alpha reductase inhibitors)

How do these work?
For example these might be Finasteride, Dutasteride . These can be used to block the natural hormone testosterone that makes the prostate enlarge or get bigger. These can shrink an already enlarged prostate or can slow down the rate at which the prostate is enlarging.

Who are these suitable for?
Symptoms improve in half of all men with this medication. It’s been found to work best in men with large prostates.

How quickly might these work?
These medicines do not help all patients. It can take up to 6 months before this treatment starts to take effect and may go on working for several years. In some cases, the full effect of the treatment may take up to 6 months.

What about side-effects?
The man may have find some difficulties with loss of libido (lack of interest in sexual intercourse) or with erectile dysfunction (not being able to get or maintain an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse). Usually side-effects disappear when the medication is stopped. For further information see our Prostate conditions and erectile dysfunction

This type of medication shouldn’t be used if the partner or spouse may become pregnant. If already pregnant the partner/spouse should avoid handling these pills.

Blockers (alpha-blockers)

How do these work?
For example these might be Tamsulosin or Alfuzosin. These work by blocking so called alpha receptors and are used to relax the smooth muscle around the bladder neck and within the prostate so there is less pressure on the urethra. This helps improve the flow of urine.

Who are these suitable for?
Symptoms improve in up to 60% of all men with BPH using this treatment. This may not be suitable for men with a history of low blood pressure.

How quickly might these work? These usually work quite quickly, in about 2-3 weeks and may work for 3 years or more.

What about side-effects?
The side effects of alpha-blockers can include dizziness, fatigue, stomach problems and light-headedness. Usually side-effects disappear when the medication is stopped.

In some cases, your doctor could recommend a combination treatment with both alpha-blockers and alpha reductase inhibitors, both relaxing the muscle in the prostate gland and shrinking the prostate. In fact both drugs may be combined into one pill. A number of studies have suggested that in the majority of cases, combination treatment can be more effective than single treatment, especially where the level of prostate enlargement is significant (See Kirby. R. & McDonnell J. Benign Prostate Hyperplasia Health press, pp43 in the directory).

After time, there may still be a need for surgery to deal with the cause. Between 13% and 39% of patients treated with alpha-blockers after 5 years may find that there is a need for a different treatment.