Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia

The prostate is a small gland that makes semen. As you age, the prostate grows. If it becomes too big, it may cause problems with urination. This condition is called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).

Symptoms of BPH

BPH is common in men older than 60. That’s because as the prostate grows bigger throughout a man’s life. As it grows, it presses against the urethra. The urethra carries urine out of your body from your bladder. Your bladder may also weaken with age. It may not empty completely after you urinate.

Men with BPH may have these symptoms:

  • The urge to frequently urinate, especially at night

  • Leaking or dribbling of urine

  • A weak stream of urine

  • An inability to urinate

Diagnosing BPH

BPH can damage your bladder and kidneys. It can also lead to kidney stones and urinary tract infections. If you think you may have BPH, talk with your health care provider. Early treatment can prevent complications.

Several tests can diagnose BPH. Your health care provider may start with a digital rectal exam. During this procedure, your provider puts a gloved finger into your rectum to check the size of your prostate.

Your health care provider may also order X-rays. These images can find problems in your kidneys or bladder.

Other tests include a cystoscopy and a urine flow study. During a cystoscopy, a provider looks inside the urinary tract with a scope. A scope is a flexible tube with a camera. A urine flow study uses a special device to see how fast urine leaves your body.

Treating BPH

If you have mild symptoms, you may not need treatment. You may be able to manage your BPH with lifestyle changes. Some men feel better if they limit or avoid alcohol and coffee. Not drinking too many fluids at night may ease symptoms, too.

Kegel exercises may also help. They strengthen the pelvic muscle to urine from leaking. While urinating, contract your pelvic muscle to stop or slow down the flow of urine. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat at least 5 times. Do the exercise 3 to 5 times every day.

Certain medicines can worsen BPH symptoms. These include drugs for congestion, allergies, and depression. Diuretics can also cause BPH. If you take any of these, talk with your health care provider. You may need to take another medicine or change how much you take.

BPH symptoms often get worse as the prostate grows. So you may eventually need treatment. Your health care provider may prescribe medicine to shrink the prostate or stop its growth. Other treatments can make the urethra wider to let urine to flow more easily.

If your BPH is severe, your health care provider may recommend surgery. Surgery takes out enlarged parts of the prostate gland. Your health care provider can figure out the best option for you based on your age, overall health, and other factors.

BPH and Prostate Cancer

BPH and prostate cancer share some symptoms. That’s why it’s important to talk with your health care provider about your symptoms. Men with BPH aren’t more likely to develop this cancer. But they may have higher levels of the prostate-specific antigen (PSA). A higher PSA level may be a sign of prostate cancer.