Enlarged Prostate (BPH)

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This information can help you understand benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and how it can be treated. BPH is an enlarged but otherwise normal prostate. It is common in older men and may cause no problems at all. If you want or need to choose a treatment, however, this information describes both benefits and risks of all treatments.

BPH is not cancer and does not cause cancer

Benign means the cells are not cancerous. Hyperplasia means there are more cells than normal.

BPH results from growing older and cannot be prevented. Your chances of having prostate trouble increase as you age. BPH is common in men over age 50. More than half of all men over age 60 have BPH. By age 80, about 8 out of 10 men have it.

BPH does not always cause problems. Fewer than half of all men with BPH ever show any symptoms of the disease. And only some men with symptoms will need treatment.

What are the symptoms of BPH?

The most common symptom of BPH is trouble urinating. Many men with BPH have no bothersome symptoms. But BPH may cause some men to have problems urinating. Put a check next to the symptoms that you have:

  • I feel that I have not completely emptied my bladder after I stop urinating.
  • I urinate often.
  • I stop and start when I urinate.
  • I have a strong and sudden desire to urinate that is hard to delay.
  • My urine stream is weak.
  • I need to push or strain to start the urine stream. I often wake up at night to urinate.

What causes symptoms?

As the prostate grows in BPH, it squeezes the urethra (urinary tube). This narrows the tube and can cause problems with urination. Sometimes with BPH you can also have urinary infection or bleeding.

In the early stages of BPH, the bladder muscle can still force urine through the narrowed urethra by squeezing harder. But if the blockage continues, the bladder muscle gets stronger, thicker, and more sensitive. The result is a stronger need to urinate.

In some cases, you may have trouble forcing urine through the urethra. This means the bladder cannot empty completely. Some men may find that they suddenly cannot urinate (a condition called acute urinary retention). Over time, a few men might have bladder or kidney problems or both.

Sometimes BPH causes infection of the urinary tract. This can cause burning or pain when you urinate. The urinary tract is the path that urine takes as it leaves the body. The tract includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra (see Figure 1).

Additional Information

Tags: Urethra, Prostate, Urinary retention, Urination Urinary bladder, Urology, Benign prostatic hyperplasia, Urinary tract infection
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