Alpha Blockers for BPH
You might have heard of alpha blocker medications for treating high blood pressure, but did you know alpha blockers can also help with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or an enlarged prostate?1
How do alpha blockers work?
One of the many symptoms of BPH is having trouble urinating. Alpha blockers work by helping muscles around the bladder and prostate relax.1 They block information received by certain receptors in the body.1 These receptors control how often or hard the cells squeeze or tighten – which can lead to painful or weak urine flow.1 By “blocking” these receptors, the cells can remain open and relaxed allowing free flow of urine.1 It’s like alpha blockers are holding a door open for you. By helping muscles of the urinary tract stay smooth and relaxed, alpha blockers can help manage symptoms of BPH, so you can pee more easily.1
Types of alpha blockers
There are several alpha blockers for the treatment of BPH. Based on your symptoms, your doctor may prescribe a specific alpha blocker for your BPH, which may include:1-3
- Alfuzosin (Uroxatral®)4
- Doxazosin (Cardura®, generic)5
- Silodosin (Rapaflo®)6
- Tamsulosin (Flomax®, generic)7
- Terazosin (Hytrin®)8
Alpha blockers are usually prescribed for moderate to severe BPH, and patients generally begin seeing results and relief from symptoms of BPH within days to weeks.
Other considerations and potential side effects
An important thing to note with alpha blockers is that they do not change the size of the prostate or affect its growth in any way.1 This means that if your prostate continues to grow, your symptoms may continue or increase despite taking medications.1
It’s also important to discuss side effects with your doctor before pursuing any treatment option. Some common alpha blocker side effects include:1
- Dizziness, headache and fatigue (most common)4-8
- Dry mouth, stuffy nose and swelling of the ankles7,8
- Retrograde ejaculation (semen enters the bladder instead of releasing from the penis during ejaculation) – this is more common with tamsulosin compared to other alpha blockers6,7
- Erectile dysfunction (trouble getting or maintaining an erection)7,8
- Low blood pressure (rare) with nonselective alpha blockers like terazosin and doxazosin5,7,8
Finding the right treatment
Besides alpha blockers, your doctor may recommend other types of medications such as 5-alpha reductase inhibitors and phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors. Still, alpha blockers only help manage the symptoms of BPH without treating the cause of the condition and can have side effects such as sexual dysfunction. You can speak with your doctor about minimally invasive treatment options to treat the cause of BPH that might better align with your long-term goals for managing your symptoms.
Rezūm™ Water Vapor Therapy is an alternative to medications and surgery. Rezūm Therapy is a minimally invasive BPH treatment for men 50 years or older that uses the natural energy in steam to treat the excess prostate tissue blocking urine flow – while preserving sexual function.9 And the average procedure takes less than 10 minutes.9
BPH can be a frustrating condition with a large impact on your lifestyle. Speak with your doctor to understand all your treatment options, or you can find a doctor in your area who can help.
Most patients report relatively minor discomfort during the Rezūm procedure. Potential risks associated with Rezūm Water Vapor Therapy include but are not limited to painful or frequent urination, blood in the urine or semen, decrease in ejaculatory volume, urinary tract infection (UTI), inability to urinate or completely empty the bladder, and urgent need to urinate. During healing, symptoms may continue or worsen. Most men require a catheter for several days post-procedure.9,10 A complete list of risk information can be found here.
Are BPH symptoms bothering you?
If your symptoms aren’t going away with medications, then it may be time to consider other treatments.
Read more about medications for BPH
- Alpha-blockers. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/22321-alpha-blockers. Accessed April 25, 2022.
- Your benign prostatic hyperplasia medication: When to consider a change. Harvard Health Publishing. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/your-benign-prostatic-hyperplasia-medication-when-to-consider-a-change-2009031134. Accessed April 25, 2022.
- Lerner LB, McVary, KT, Barry MJ, et al. Management of lower urinary tract symptoms attributed to benign prostatic hyperplasia: AUA Guideline part I, initial work-up and medical management. J Urol. 2021 Oct;206(4):806-17.
- Uroxatral Prescribing Information. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2009/021287s013lbl.pdf. Accessed April 25, 2022.
- Cardura Label. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2009/019668s021lbl.pdf. Accessed April 25, 2022.
- Rapaflo Prescribing Information. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2013/022206s012lbl.pdf. Accessed April 25, 2022.
- Flomax Prescribing Information. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2009/020579s026lbl.pdf. Accessed April 25, 2022.
- Hytrin Label. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2009/019057s022lbl.pdf. Accessed April 25, 2022.
- McVary KT, Gittelman MC, Goldberg KA, et al. Final 5-year outcomes of the multicenter randomized sham-controlled trial of Rezūm water vapor thermal therapy for treatment of moderate-to-severe lower urinary tract symptoms secondary to benign prostatic hyperplasia. J Urol. 2021 Sep;206(3):715-24.
- Mooney R, Goldberg K, Wong D, et al. Convective radio frequency thermal therapy for treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia: single office experience with 255 patients over 4 years. Urol Pract. 2020 Jan;7(1):28-33.
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