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Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia: What You Need to Know

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia, also known as prostate gland enlargement, becomes common in men as they age. Men younger than 40 years old rarely have BPH symptoms. According to Medscape, BPH is a common health issue affecting the quality of life of approximately one third of men older than 50 years old. An enlarged prostate can block the flow of urine out of the bladder, causing urinary discomfort. BPH can also lead to bladder, urinary tract or kidney problems. Here is what you need to know about how to approach BPH:


BPH symptoms tend to worsen over time. Varied symptoms of BPH include:

  • Frequent or urgent need to urinate

  • Increased frequency of urination at night (nocturia)

  • Difficulty starting urination

  • Weak urine stream or a stream that stops and starts

  • Dribbling at the end of urination

  • Inability to completely empty the bladder

  • UTI

  • Appearance of blood in the urine

The symptoms listed aren’t synonymous with the size of your prostate. Men with significantly enlarged prostates can have minor urinary symptoms, whereas, men with slightly enlarged prostates can have more severe symptoms. Closely monitor your prostate symptoms.


Due to the location of the prostate, when it enlarges it blocks the tube that urine passes through from the bladder and out of the urethra. The prostate sits below the bladder and around the urethra. A compressed urethra causes a majority of the BPH symptoms listed above. The causes of enlarged prostate is unknown, although most men have continued growth throughout life.


According to Mayo Clinic, BPH complications include:

  • Sudden inability to urinate (urinary retention). You might need to have a tube (catheter) inserted into your bladder to drain the urine. Some men with an enlarged prostate need surgery to relieve urinary retention.

  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs). Inability to fully empty the bladder can increase the risk of infection in your urinary tract. If UTIs occur frequently, you might need surgery to remove part of the prostate.

  • Bladder stones. These are generally caused by an inability to completely empty the bladder. Bladder stones can cause infection, bladder irritation, blood in the urine and obstruction of urine flow.

  • Bladder damage. A bladder that hasn't emptied completely can stretch and weaken over time. As a result, the muscular wall of the bladder no longer contracts properly, making it harder to fully empty your bladder.

  • Kidney damage. Pressure in the bladder from urinary retention can directly damage the kidneys or allow bladder infections to reach the kidneys.

Majority of men with BPH don’t develop these complications. Having an enlarged prostate isn’t associated with higher risk of developing prostate cancer.


Treatment for enlarged prostate depends on your size, age, overall health history, and amount of discomfort. Treatment can range from non-invasive to surgical. For some men symptoms may ease without treatment at all. Medications such as alpha blockers, 5-alpha reductase inhibitors, and Tadalafil will shrink the prostate over time. Doctors will recommend minimally invasive and surgical therapy if symptoms are moderate to severe or medication hasn’t helped. If you have urinary complications surgery is also advised.

Make a list of symptoms and key medical information to present to your doctor.

Featured photo by Shutterstock

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