Prostate Home > Medications for BPH

Medications for BPH include three classes of drugs. Alpha-blockers relax muscles near the prostate, while 5 alpha-reductase inhibitors shrink the prostate gland. Cialis, which is a phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitor, does not shrink the prostate, and it can be especially useful for men who have both BPH and erectile dysfunction.

Medications for BPH: An Introduction

Since the early 1990s, millions of American men with mild-to-moderate BPH symptoms have chosen medications for BPH over surgery as their approach to treating an enlarged prostate.
There are three main types of medications for BPH, as follows:
  • Alpha-blockers
  • 5 alpha-reductase inhibitors
  • Phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors (PDE5 inhibitors).

Medications for BPH: Alpha-Blockers

Alpha-blockers used as enlarged prostate treatment help relax muscles near the prostate to relieve pressure and let urine flow more freely, but they don't shrink the size of the prostate. For many men, these medications for BPH can improve urine flow and reduce the enlarged prostate symptoms within days.
Possible side effects of these medications for BPH include:

Medications for BPH: 5 Alpha-Reductase Inhibitors

5 alpha-reductase inhibitors, known as finasteride or dutasteride, shrink the prostate. These medications for BPH relieve symptoms by blocking an enzyme that acts on the male hormone testosterone to boost organ growth. When the enzyme is blocked, growth slows down. This helps to:
  • Shrink the prostate
  • Reduce blockage
  • Limit the need for BPH surgery.
Taking this type of medication for BPH for at least 6 months to 1 year can increase urine flow and reduce the symptoms of BPH. It seems to work best for men with very large prostates. Patients must continue to take the drug to prevent their symptoms from coming back. This drug is also used to treat baldness in men (Propecia®).
5 alpha-reductase inhibitors can cause the following side effects in a small percentage of men:
  • Decreased interest in sex
  • Trouble getting or keeping an erection
  • Smaller amount of semen with ejaculation.
It is important to note that taking this drug can lower your prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test levels. There is also evidence that finasteride lowers the risk of getting prostate cancer, but whether it lowers the risk of dying from prostate cancer is still unclear.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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