What is benign prostatic hyperplasia?

Image Caption : Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), also known as benign prostatic hypertrophy or enlarged prostate, is the noncancerous growth of the prostate gland. BPH is very common: in the US, most men over the age of 60 have the disorder. The enlarged prostate can start to squeeze the urethra and make urination difficult.

Symptoms include:

  • Bladder damage the bladder wall stretches and cant contract
  • Kidney damage

Complications include:

  • Difficulty urinating weak urine stream
  • Needing to urinate, frequently often at night

What is benign prostatic hyperplasia?

Benign prostatic hyperplasia––also called BPH––is a condition in men in which the prostate gland is enlarged and not cancerous. Benign prostatic hyperplasia is also called benign prostatic hypertrophy or benign prostatic obstruction.

The prostate goes through two main growth periods as a man ages. The first occurs early in puberty, when the prostate doubles in size. The second phase of growth begins around age 25 and continues during most of a man’s life. Benign prostatic hyperplasia often occurs with the second growth phase.

As the prostate enlarges, the gland presses against and pinches the urethra. The bladder wall becomes thicker. Eventually, the bladder may weaken and lose the ability to empty completely, leaving some urine in the bladder. The narrowing of the urethra and urinary retention––the inability to empty the bladder completely––cause many of the problems associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia.

What is the prostate?

The prostate is a walnut-shaped gland that is part of the male reproductive system. The main function of the prostate is to make a fluid that goes into semen. Prostate fluid is essential for a man’s fertility. The gland surrounds the urethra at the neck of the bladder. The bladder neck is the area where the urethra joins the bladder. The bladder and urethra are parts of the lower urinary tract. The prostate has two or more lobes, or sections, enclosed by an outer layer of tissue, and it is in front of the rectum, just below the bladder. The urethra is the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body. In men, the urethra also carries semen out through the penis.

Drawing of the side view of the male lower urinary tract, with labels pointing to the bladder, groin, penis, prostate, scrotum, and urethra.

The prostate is a walnut-shaped gland that is part of the male reproductive system.

NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Enlarged Prostate (BPH)

Also called: benign prostatic hyperplasia

The prostate is a gland in men. It helps make semen, the fluid that contains sperm. The prostate surrounds the tube that carries urine out of the body. As men age, their prostate grows bigger. If it gets too large, it can cause problems. An enlarged prostate is also called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Most men will get BPH as they get older. Symptoms often start after age 50.

BPH is not cancer, and it does not seem to increase your chance of getting prostate cancer. But the early symptoms are the same. Check with your doctor if you have

  • A frequent and urgent need to urinate, especially at night
  • Trouble starting a urine stream or making more than a dribble
  • A urine stream that is weak, slow, or stops and starts several times
  • The feeling that you still have to go, even just after urinating
  • Small amounts of blood in your urine

Severe BPH can cause serious problems over time, such as urinary tract infections, and bladder or kidney damage. If it is found early, you are less likely to develop these problems.

Tests for BPH include a digital rectal exam, blood and imaging tests, a urine flow study, and examination with a scope called a cystoscope. Treatments include watchful waiting, medicines, nonsurgical procedures, and surgery.

NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

The material on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Consult a licensed medical professional for the diagnosis and treatment of all medical conditions and before starting a new diet or exercise program. If you have a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.