"I thought prostate problems affected the oldies, not people like me, in their 40's. But when the weak flow, urgency and nightly visits to the toilet began, I began to wonder…" This is David's story.
It was at his annual check-up that David first realized his PSA level was too high. He hadn't paid much attention to his urinary problems before, but now he put two and two together. His learned that his condition had a name. It was most likely BPH (benign prostate hyperplasia or enlarged prostate), but David wondered whether it could be more aggressive changes with his prostate.
– At this point I was a little bit worried. I didn’t know much about the condition and I couldn’t really understand the difference between BPH and prostate cancer, so I did some research while waiting for my doctor’s appointment. Maybe I shouldn’t have – not all websites contain uplifting information…
David met with a urologist who diagnosed him with the unpleasant, but not life threatening condition BPH, and was sent home with a prescription for two drugs; one that relaxes the muscles to ease the urinary flow, and one containing hormones to decrease the size of the enlarged prostate in order to widen the urethra, the channel through which urine flows.
– I heard the doctor’s words echoing in my mind: “You might need to use hormones for the rest of your life”. Which could mean half my life, if I’m lucky to live that long. That’s a really long time on hormones.
As time went by, David found himself more and more affected by the drugs. He became irritable, depressed and tired. Really, really tired.
– The PSA level came down. It was the only positive thing that happened, except for my hair growing thicker on my head. I became totally listless. I didn’t feel like doing anything - I went from being an active man, with all the drives and desires that entails, to feeling nothing. I was not a “he” anymore, I became an “it”. And I started to leak. I lost control over my body and I felt awful.
David hadn’t got any information from the doctor on possible side effects, so these symptoms came as a shock. He started thinking about how his life would turn out if he was stuck on this drug for the rest of his life, and he panicked.
– I got divorced a couple of years ago, have three kids, and now when my children are older, I've begun to long for a new relationship. But I felt: what do I have to offer? I couldn't perform as a man my age should. My feelings and my function had gone.
David felt like this for a year. He stuck to the treatment, didn’t miss a pill and the side effects remained. He needed to discuss his issues with someone, but the topic is taboo and he didn’t know where to go. Finally he approached his friend, who happens to be a doctor (pediatrician, but still) and he advised David to seek a second opinion.
– The new urologist said that it was highly likely that my reaction was a result of the hormones. They're adapted for the elderly, who are more likely to develop this condition. He said that I’m 20 years too young and told me to stop the treatment immediately.
The doctor performed a cystoscopy and assessed that David’s condition was treatable with TURP, a surgery where the doctor trims away excess prostate tissue that's blocking urine flow.
– Now I'm in a queue for surgery, without any treatment in the meantime. The downside is that the peeing problems have returned, but on the other hand I’ve also got my personality back. So I’m kind of looking forward to this surgery, and the chance of a new life.
To learn more about different treatments of LUTS (Lower Urinary Tract Symtoms), please visit the section on Men’s health on our website.
Click the button to read more about different treatments of enlarged prostate (BPH).