BPH medications are used to treat bothersome symptoms. There are many medications but they fall into one of three classes: relaxers, shrinkers or medications which only affect symptoms. Many people initially start with medications, but improved minimally-invasive options and possible newly-uncovered side effects/loss of effect over time have led to increasing use of the Urolift system or other surgical options
The most common of these medications is Flomax®, or tamsulosin. These medications are helpful in controlling inital symptoms, but they do not stop BPH progression. They work by decreasing the muscular tone of the prostate allowing relaxation and decreased compression of the urethra. Other medications in this class include alfuzosin and doxazosin. Side effects include changes to ejaculation, dizziness, runny nose and fatigue. NEW DATA has increasing links to future ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE in patients with prior long-term tamsulosin use.
If growth is the cause of BPH symptoms, then it makes sense that by shrinking the prostate, symptoms can be reversed. This class of medications includes Proscar® (finasteride) and Avodart® (dutasteride). This is the only class of medications shown to decrease BPH progression. However, SIDE EFFECTS can be PERMANENT and can include decreased erectile function, libido (sex drive) and breast tenderness. Additionally, these medications may affect prostate cancer growth.
Cialis®, a medication for erectile dysfunction, also can cause improvement in urinary symptoms from BPH. Check with your insurance coverage as this medication is costly and few insurers provide adequate coverage.