Water Vapor Therapy for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)

Enlarged prostate symptoms may include waking several times per night to urinate, feeling like the bladder is never empty and pain or or burning when urinating. Steam delivery therapy to eliminate extra tissue is a minimally invasive procedure to treat this.


What is benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)?

Benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH, refers to the enlargement of the prostate gland that almost always happens as a man ages. The term benign means that this change is not cancerous. The prostate is a gland that produces the fluid that semen is stored in. The prostate surrounds the tube that moves urine out of the body through the penis. When the prostate gets bigger, it can interfere with urination.


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What are symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)?

Symptoms of BPH include:

  • Waking up at night several times to urinate.
  • Not being able to control starting and stopping of urination.
  • Feeling like your bladder is not really empty.
  • Having a weak urine stream that may start and stop and may dribble at the end.
  • Feeling pain or burning while urinating.

Procedure Details

How can steam be used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)?

The method for treating an enlarged prostate is minimally invasive. It is performed by going up through the urethra and using an instrument that turns water into steam. The steam delivery lasts only seconds. The procedure is designed to be done in a doctor’s office. You will not need general anesthesia. You will receive only local anesthesia.


Risks / Benefits

What are the benefits of water vapor therapy treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)?

  • Men are able to stop medications for BPH, relieving them of the cost and side effects of the medications. Medication side effects might include dizziness, erectile dysfunction, fatigue and nasal congestion.
  • Men are able to urinate more normally.
  • Sleep is improved, since you don’t have to get up so often during the night to urinate.

What are the risks of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) surgery?

Surgery for benign prostatic hyperplasia is common and generally very safe. However, there are risks with any surgery. After the procedure you might have the following issues:

  • Frequent urination or difficulty urinating, painful urination.
  • Blood in the urine and/or in semen.
  • An inability to hold urine (incontinence).
  • Infection or symptoms resembling a urinary tract infection.
  • Sexual dysfunction.
  • Scar tissue.

In general, side effects from vapor ablation are milder than with other forms of surgery to correct BPH.


Recovery and Outlook

What is the outlook for men who have water vapor therapy for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)?

Because the procedure takes place in the office, you do not have to stay in the hospital. You can return to your normal daily activities in a few days. You should see improvements in your symptoms within three to six weeks. You should continue to see improvements for up to three months. In addition, studies have shown that vapor ablation’s improvements have lasted up to four years.

Success rates can vary between patients. The best results from treatment often result when you seek medical help at the earliest signs of a problem.

Is benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) a risk for prostate cancer?

There is no evidence that BPH increases the risk of developing prostate cancer. However, the symptoms of BPH and prostate cancer are similar. The American Urological Association and the American Cancer Society recommend annual prostate screenings for men ages 55 to 69. Men at high risk — such as African-American men and men with a family history of prostate cancer — should begin screening at 40. It is important that doctors and patients discuss the screening process and possible inaccurate results while arriving at a decision to screen for prostate cancer.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/10/2020.

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