BPH: Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia/Enlarged Prostate

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia, or BPH, is a condition in aging men where the prostate enlarges enough to press down on the urethra. This can obstruct the urinary tract and lead to other complications.

Causes

BPH occurs because of the non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate. Continued prostate growth is common over the course of most men’s lives. However, for some, the prostate can enlarge to the point of obstructing the urinary tract, making it difficult to urinate or cut off urination completely, which is a medical emergency. While the cause of prostate enlargement is still inconclusive, some believe it may be linked to changes in hormones and sexual activity over time.

Symptoms

Symptoms of BPH will vary depending on the severity of the prostate enlargement and how much it presses down on the urethra. BPH tends to get worse over time as the prostate continues to grow.

  • Weak urine stream
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Frequent starting and stopping during urination
  • High frequency of urination at night
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Pushing or straining while urinating

Testing

In addition to a lengthy questionnaire to help identify your symptoms in relation to BPH, a doctor may conduct a digital rectal exam (DRE) by inserting a gloved finger into the anus in order to check for an enlarged prostate. Beyond the DRE, your doctor might conduct:

  • A variety of urine tests, such as a urinalysis, a urinary flow test and a test to see if you can empty your bladder completely called a postvoid residual volume test
  • A blood test to screen for prostate cancer called a prostate specific antigen (PSA)
  • Transrectal ultrasound, which will help visualize the exact dimensions of your prostate
  • Prostate biopsy, which involves collecting tissue samples of your prostate
  • A cytoscopy, which uses a scope to look directly at the urethra or bladder

Treatment

Treatment for BPH can be performed with medication or surgery, depending on the patient’s age, the severity of symptoms and any other underlying medical conditions. Alpha blockers are useful in relaxing the muscles of the prostate to help urinary flow resume better functions. 5 alpha reductase inhibitors stop hormonal changes that encourage the prostate to grow. There are also a number of surgical options available for severe cases of BPH. These surgeries can help reduce the size of the prostate or help open up the urethra more, removing your symptoms and easing discomfort.

If you feel you are suffering from symptoms of BPH, please check with your doctor. To read more about BPH online, visit Urology Care Foundation.