What is Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)?

Have you or a male loved one noticed some uncomfortable symptoms urinating lately? Maybe frequent visits to the restroom at night or a sensation of incomplete voiding? If so, it may be time to check in with your doctor. These symptoms often happen as a result of an enlarged prostate. Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia, or BPH, is a common condition as men get older. So what is it, exactly?

What is Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)?

Understanding Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia

The prostate gland is about the size of a walnut and located just below the bladder in men. It secretes the seminal fluid that helps nourish and transport sperm from the testicles. As men age to 40 years old and beyond, this gland usually starts to enlarge.

This growth, known as Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), is caused by changing hormone levels and other factors. As cells multiply, the prostate becomes larger and may press on the urethra. The pressure narrows the area intended for urine to pass, so men may experience difficulty urinating as they develop BPH.

Symptoms of BPH

The most common symptoms of BPH are as follows:

  • Urgent need to urinate
  • Increased frequency (both day and night)
  • Difficulty starting or maintaining a urine stream
  • Dribbling of urine
  • Lower urinary tract infections (UTI)
  • Recurring bladder or  kidney stones

If you are experiencing any of those symptoms, discuss them with your doctor. If left unaddressed, an enlarged prostate can lead to obstruction, bladder wall thickening, recurrent UTIs and kidney/bladder stones, and eventually kidney failure.

Getting Treatment for BPH

For treatment options, your doctor may provide you with one of the following medical therapies to address your BPH. They will take your individual circumstances into account to find the best option for you:

Medical therapy with an alpha blocker or a  5 alpha reductase inhibitor, or (which blocks the conversion of testosterone to the active dihydrotestosterone) are options your physician may provide. 

They provide symptom relief  both by relaxing the smooth muscle of the prostate gland and preventing the cells from multiplying (to stop further growth)

Surgical options can also be discussed with your urologist

BPH symptoms can be a nuisance. Over time these symptoms can get worse if ignored. Rather than living with the discomfort, see your doctor to discuss treatment options. They should be able to address the underlying issue and provide relief from unnecessary pain.