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BPH

What is an Enlarged Prostate?

An enlarged prostate occurs when a man's prostate gland slowly grows bigger as he ages. More than half of men over age 60 have this condition, also called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Some men have symptoms and others don't. The exact causes are unknown, but one thing is sure: BPH is not cancer and it does not lead to cancer. The prostate sits below the bladder and produces fluid for semen.


Symptom:

Frequent Need to Urinate
Do you have to pee more often these days? Especially at night, when you're trying to sleep? That’s a common symptom of BPH. It happens when the growing prostate presses on the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of your body. The bladder has to contract more strongly to get urine out. As a result, the bladder may start to contract even when it only contains a little urine, which makes you get the urge to go more often.
Difficulty Urinating
With an enlarged prostate, it may take you longer to get the flow of urine going, and the flow may be weaker than it used to be. You may dribble urine or feel as if there's still some inside even though you're finished urinating. These symptoms happen because the pressure on the urethra makes it narrow, so your bladder must work harder to pass urine.



Inability to Urinate
This can happen when advanced BPH blocks your urethra entirely -- or as a result of a bladder infection. Bladder muscles also may become too weak to force urine out of the body. From any cause, it can lead to permanent kidney damage. You can prevent this by seeing your doctor as soon as you notice symptoms. If you suddenly can't urinate, go to a hospital emergency room immediately.

Who Gets an Enlarged Prostate?

Most men get an enlarged prostate as they age. The prostate gland grows throughout most of a man's life, first at puberty and then from about age 25 on. It usually doesn't cause symptoms before the age of 40. But by age 85, up to 90% of men have symptoms. Only about a third of men with an enlarged prostate are bothered by symptoms.


What Causes the Prostate to Grow?

No one knows for sure. It is believed that different hormones such as testosterone, dihydrotestosterone (DHT), and estrogen may play a role. It is also unclear why some men with BPH will have symptoms while others do not. Vasectomy and sex do not raise the risk of having BPH.

Getting Diagnosed Early

BPH symptoms can be similar to those of other conditions. If you have symptoms, it's important to see your doctor, who can rule out other possible causes, such as an infection or cancer.

When Does BPH Need to Be Treated?

Whether you need to treat BPH depends on your symptoms. If you have none or your symptoms are not severe, you probably won't need treatment. But recurring infections, kidney damage, difficulty urinating, or a leaky bladder can really impact your quality of life. In these cases, medications or surgery may help.


Will BPH Affect My Sex Life?

There is some evidence that older men with severe BPH symptoms may be more likely to have problems in the bedroom, compared to other men their age. Some of the medications commonly used to treat BPH have been associated with problems getting an erection and ejaculating. If you develop sexual issues, talk to your doctor. A change in medications may be enough to correct them.

Living with BPH

Some men never even know they have BPH. Others are never troubled by it. But if you have bothersome symptoms, there are many options for treating them to help you maintain a high quality of life. The most important thing is to see your doctor as soon as you notice symptoms.

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