Prostate enlargement, also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), is a non-cancerous swelling of the prostate gland. It is a common urological condition in men above 50 years old.
The prostate is a gland located underneath the bladder and close to the urethra, the tube that transports urine out of the penis. Only men have a prostate, as its function is to produce fluid for semen.
The prostate is normally the size of a walnut in younger men, or the size of a golf ball in older men. In men who have benign prostatic hyperplasia, the prostate becomes enlarged, swelling up to the size of a tennis ball and pressing on the urethra, thus causing urinary symptoms.
BPH causes symptoms of the lower urinary tract when the enlarged prostate exerts pressure on the urethra and prevents the normal flow of urine out of the bladder. With growing pressure, the bladder starts to contract even when it is not completely full, and eventually loses the ability to empty itself.
Symptoms of an enlarged prostate include:
If you find you are unable to urinate at all, experience pain or chills while urinating, or notice blood in your urine, seek medical help immediately.
It is unclear what causes BPH to develop, though hormonal changes are believed to be a trigger. As men age, testosterone levels decline while another hormone, dihydroxytestosterone (DHT), increases, leading to prostate cell growth.
Imbalance in other growth factors that control cell division and cell death may also play a role in causing BPH.
The risk of developing BPH increases with age. BPH is found in approximately 50% of men between the ages of 51 – 60, and up to 90% in men over 80 years old.
Other factors that may increase the risk of BPH include:
If the prostate becomes too large, it can cause complications such as:
There is no specific way to prevent BPH, but you may be able to reduce your risk by: