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Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

April 5, 2023

Image of african man standing in front of a toilet bowl; frequent urination is a symptom of benign prostatic hyperplasia

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia, BPH is a common condition affecting more than 50% of men over the age of 50. Its causes include a variety of factors.

It occurs when the prostate gland enlarges, causing urinary symptoms such as frequent urination and difficulty completely emptying your bladder. Although BPH can be uncomfortable and inconvenient, it does not lead to prostate cancer.

However, if left untreated, it can have serious long-term effects. These include difficulty urinating and an increased risk for recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs).

Fortunately, there are effective treatments available to manage or even reverse BPH symptoms in most cases.

In this blog post, we will cover what causes BPH, and how doctors diagnose and treat the condition. We will also look at steps that you can take right now to improve your quality of life.

With the right knowledge, resources, and support, you can find relief from this condition — read on to learn more!

Image of the enlarged prostate gland surrounding the bladder in benign prostatic hyperplasia

Overview of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)

A benign disorder affecting the prostate gland is benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or benign prostatic enlargement (BPE).

The prostate is a tiny, walnut-shaped gland found directly below the bladder and in front of the rectum. It is essential for male reproductive health. It secretes a fluid that helps nourish and protect sperm cells during ejaculation.

BPH can cause the prostate to grow in men as they age. This results in urinary issues such as difficulty starting or maintaining a steady flow of urine and frequent urination.

Other symptoms may include incomplete emptying of the bladder, weak stream, straining when urinating, and urgency. There may also be the urge to pee even when your bladder is empty.

What Causes BPH

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia is caused by several conditions (BPH).

The exact cause is still unknown but may be a result of hormonal and genetic changes that occur with age.

Some of the possible factors include an increase in the activity of 5-alpha reductase.

This enzyme converts testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and increases aromatase activity, which produces more oestrogen.

Other possible contributors to BPH are environmental factors such as smoking and alcohol consumption, stress, and lack of exercise.

In some cases, underlying medical conditions such as diabetes or high cholesterol may play a role in the development of BPH.

Furthermore, certain medications can also contribute to BPH symptoms, including anti-anxiety drugs, antihistamines, and certain blood pressure medications.

Image shows a man in boxer shorts stained around the front demonstrates that leaking or wet accidents are a sign of BPH

Symptoms of BPH

Symptoms of BPH can be varied and range from mild to severe.

The most common symptom associated with this condition is difficulty urinating, which can include a weak or interrupted urine stream.

There may be straining to empty the bladder, and needing to urinate (especially at night) frequently.

Men may also have an increased urge to urinate even if nothing comes out.

In more advanced cases, they may experience pain or discomfort when urinating.

Other symptoms are an inability to empty their bladder, and frequent urinary tract infections.

Other symptoms associated with BPH are hesitancy (when it takes a long time for urine to start flowing).

There can also be a sense of inadequate bladder emptying, and dribbling after urination.

If left untreated, BPH can lead to serious complications such as:

  • bladder stones,
  • recurrent UTIs,
  • and in some cases, even kidney failure due to a blocked urethra.

To diagnose BPH accurately, your doctor will likely recommend that you undergo a physical exam along with blood tests and imaging studies such as a prostate ultrasound. They may also use other tests, such as PSA testing (prostate-specific antigen) or urodynamic studies, which measure how the bladder usually functions. This allows them to get a better understanding of your situation to create the most effective treatment plan possible.

Diagnosis and Treatment Options for BPH

Once there is a diagnosis of BPH, treatment can range from simply watching and waiting to medications and/or surgery.

Your doctor will recommend the best course of action based on your unique case.

First, your doctor will recommend medications, including alpha blockers which help relax the muscles in the bladder, neck, and prostate.

These will make it easier to urinate.

Flomax (tamsulosin) is a common type of alpha-blocker and is available in a 0.4 mg dosage per capsule. Other medications, they may recommend are 5-alpha reductase inhibitors, which can shrink the size of the prostate, reducing symptoms.

In some cases, doctors may recommend surgery if medication fails to provide relief. Surgery may also be appropriate if your condition is severe enough that it’s causing other problems, such as kidney failure.

Xray graphic showing the man's urinary channel including the kidnets, ureters, bladder, and urethra - all affected when there is benign prostatic hyperplasia

Tips to Manage and Reduce the Risk of BPH Complications

Fortunately, there are several strategies that you can implement into your daily routine to help reduce the risk of developing BPH-related complications.

These include:

  • Maintaining a healthy diet and getting regular exercise
  • Monitoring blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • Quitting smoking or avoiding secondhand smoke
  • Avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and other substances known to irritate the bladder
  • Practicing relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation to manage stress levels.

It’s also important to visit your doctor regularly for check-ups so they can monitor any changes in your condition.

If you are experiencing symptoms associated with BPH, it is best to seek medical attention sooner rather than later.

The sooner you seek treatment, the better your chances of finding relief from bothersome urinary problems.

Resources to Learn More About Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia

If you or a loved one is living with BPH, it’s important to be informed about the condition and how to manage it. Here are some helpful resources to learn more:

The National Institute on Aging — This website provides comprehensive information about BPH, including symptoms, diagnosis, treatment options, and tips for managing the condition.

The American Urological Association — This website includes detailed information about BPH, including risks and causes, diagnosis, treatment options, and lifestyle tips.

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, BPH is a common condition that affects many men as they age.

Understanding the cause, recognizing symptoms early, and taking steps to manage them can help keep it from progressing or causing further complications.

With appropriate diagnosis and treatment, you can find relief from bothersome urinary problems and regain control of your bladder health. If you experience unusual changes in bathroom habits or difficulty urinating, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor for further evaluation.

They are there to support you every step of the way so you can get back to living life to its fullest!

 More Reading

Editing by AskAwayHealth Team


All AskAwayHealth articles are written by practicing Medical Practitioners on various healthcare conditions to help promote quality healthcare. The advice in our material is not meant to replace a qualified healthcare practitioner’s management of your specific condition.
To discuss your condition, please get in touch with a health practitioner or reach us directly

Image Credits: Canva

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