The prostate is part of the male reproductive system. It is a walnut-sized gland located just below the bladder and surrounds the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body). It produces the fluid in the semen that nourishes sperm.
BPH is a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate. It is a very common condition that occurs in almost all men as they age, usually after age 50. The cause of BPH is unknown but probably due to changes in the balance of sex hormones as men aged.
As the prostate enlarges, it gradually compresses the urethra and blocks the flow of urine. Eventually, the bladder may weaken and lose the ability to empty completely causing the man susceptible to urine retention, urinary tract infection, kidney stones and kidney problems.
The severity of symptoms varies, but symptoms tend to gradually worsen over time. Common signs and symptoms of BPH include:
• Difficulty starting urination
• Inability to completely empty the bladder
• Urinate often
• Increased frequency of urination especially at night
• Increased urgency
• Weak urine stream
• Straining while urinating
• Dribbling of urine
Men with the following symptoms should seek immediate medical care:
• complete inability to urinate
• painful, frequent, and urgent need to urinate, with fever and chills
• blood in the urine
• great discomfort or pain in the lower abdomen
Treatment for BPH
• Treatment is not necessary for a mildly enlarged prostate unless their symptoms are bothersome and affecting their quality of life. In these cases, lifestyle modifications and regular checkups are recommended to prevent the symptoms from getting worse.
• Some alternative lifestyle modifications that may help alleviate symptoms of BPH:
- Limit fluid intake in the evening
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol
- Try to urinate at regular times to “retrain” the bladder
- Go to bathroom when you first feel the urge
- Practice “double voiding” (Urinate as much as you can, relax for a few moments, and then urinate again)
- Staying active by regular exercise
- Follow a healthy diet to prevent obesity which is a risk factor for BPH
- Practice stress management and relaxation techniques
• Treatment of BPH is usually reserved for men with significant symptoms. Medication is often the first line treatment option, such as:
- Alpha blockers – to relax muscles of the prostate and bladder and to ease the flow of urine
- 5-alpha reductase inhibitors – help shrinking the prostate or delay the need for surgery
• Surgery is recommended if:
- medications are ineffective
- symptoms are particularly bothersome or severe
- complications arise
BPH does not cause or lead to cancer. However, BPH and prostate cancer have similar symptoms, and a man who has BPH may have undetected cancer at the same time. To help detect prostate cancer in its early stages, the American Urological Association and the American Cancer Society recommend annual screening for men ages 50 to 70. Tests used to screen for prostate cancer include a blood test called prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and rectal examination by doctor.
*This information is provided for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice or treatment from a health care provider. Like any printed material, it may become out-of-date over time.