The prostate gland commonly becomes enlarged as a man ages. Doctors call this condition benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). When the prostate becomes enlarged, it compresses the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body) and can cause difficulty with urination.
Who gets BPH?
BPH affects more than 50 percent of men over the age of sixty and as many as 90 percent of men over seventy.
Prostate gland enlargement varies in severity, but tends to gradually worsen over time. Common symptoms include:
Weak urine stream
Difficulty starting urination
Stopping and starting while urinating
Dribbling at the end of urination
Frequent or urgent need to urinate
Increased frequency of urination at night (nocturia)
Straining while urinating
Not being able to completely empty the bladder
Urinary tract infection
Formation of stones in the bladder
Reduced kidney function
Many individuals notice BPH symptoms. If you don’t, your physician may find prostate enlargement by performing a digital rectal examination (DRE).
Additional tests can include:
Urine flow study. Urinating into a device that measures how quickly urine is flowing.
Cystoscopy. A small tube with a lens and light called a cytoscope is inserted through the urethra’s opening in the penis to determine the location and degree of the urethra obstruction.
Prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test. While BPH does not cause prostrate cancer, the two do have similar symptoms. This test is used to rule out cancer.
Mild cases of BPH may warrant a recommendation of no treatment and regular checkups to watch for early problems.
Cases in which the symptoms cause significant discomfort and problems, medicines may be prescribed or surgery may be recommended.
Surgical procedures often involve removing the enlarged part of the prostate. Surgeons use transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) for 90 percent of all BPH-related surgeries.