Many men over 50 have urinary problems caused by an enlarged prostate, but now a high-speed water jet can treat them. Paul Griffiths, 67, a semi-retired estimating engineer from Keynsham, near Bristol, had it done, as he tells Carol Davis.
Paul Griffiths, 67, a semi-retired estimating engineer from Keynsham, near Bristol
Since my 50s, I’ve had to get up in the night to go to the loo — it could be four or five times if I’d been out for a drink.
After about three years I sought help. It was getting annoying and disturbing my sleep. My GP said it was probably benign prostate overgrowth, which happens as men age: the prostate, a walnut-shaped gland surrounding the urethra (the tube which carries urine out of the body) grows and can block flow. He examined me and referred me to a specialist for tests.
A few weeks later an ultrasound scan showed my prostate was very large — they didn’t give me a measurement but called it a ‘monster’. They said it was pressing on my urethra, so I couldn’t empty my bladder properly, which is why I had to keep going to the loo.
My consultant recommended transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP), where they cut away overgrown prostate tissue. But the risks included erectile dysfunction. I couldn’t bear the thought. I didn’t want the physical side of my relationship with my wife Susan to end.
Instead, I was prescribed a drug, finasteride, to shrink the prostate. But it, too, had side-effects. It made me grow breasts and I couldn’t produce semen, so my sex life was affected anyway.
I did some reading and heard about a new treatment being trialled at Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey. Called Aquabeam, it uses a high‑powered water jet to remove excess tissue (file image)
I had fewer erections, and my wife started wondering if I had another woman.
After three years of this, I stopped taking it and just lived with the frequent urination, getting up at night for the loo and going around 15 times a day. As a result, it was hard to sit through anything and I stopped going to the theatre or cinema.
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I’d take ages at the urinal as my bladder would never fully empty. But I didn’t want to be seen as loitering, so I started using a cubicle in public loos instead.
I was referred back to the consultant. Again, they suggested TURP but I still couldn’t face it.
I did some reading and heard about a new treatment being trialled at Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey.
Called Aquabeam, it uses a high‑powered water jet to remove excess tissue. It was less risky than TURP, so I could retain my sexual function.
I wrote to the consultant running the trial and pushed my GP for a referral. I had an appointment with the surgeon, Neil Barber, in September 2017.
After scans, he said I’d be suitable for the next trial. I couldn’t wait. I finally had the hour-long procedure under general anaesthetic in May 2018. I was woozy afterwards and had a catheter for two days. But when it came out, I could empty my bladder properly, just like when I was a boy. It was amazing!
Now I can enjoy a few pints and still sleep through — and our love life is better than ever.
'I’d take ages at the urinal as my bladder would never fully empty. But I didn’t want to be seen as loitering, so I started using a cubicle in public loos instead'
Neil Barber is a consultant urological surgeon at Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust in Surrey and Weymouth Street Hospital in London.sonos sonos One (Gen 2) - Voice Controlled Smart Speaker with Amazon Alexa Built-in - Black read more
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