What is benign prostate enlargement?
Benign enlargement of the prostate, also called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), is a condition characterised by an increased size of the man's prostate.
The prostate is a gland, which is located in the pelvis and is encircling the male urethra, through which urine passes from the bladder to the penis. The prostate produces an important liquid which supplies the sperm cells with nourishment. It is natural for a man's prostate to further grow by the age of 40, especially in that part of the organ encircling the urethra. Therefore, it is not uncommon for men to experience problems with urination as they get older. 40% of all men aged 50 or more and 75% of men aged 70 or more have benign enlargement of their prostate in the UK.
What are the symptoms of benign prostate enlargement?
Many men often have no symptoms, but if some symptoms are present, these are often:
- A weak stream of urine
- Difficulties emptying the bladder fully
- Urine is dripping, especially after you have tried to empty the bladder
- Pain during urination
- A feeling of incomplete emptying
- A sudden and strong urge to urinate
- Frequent urge to urinate
- Presence of blood in the urine may occur
What can cause benign prostate enlargement?
The prostate becomes larger due to an increased number of cells (hyperplasia) in the gland, but the underlying cause is still unknown. Several factors, such as male sex hormones and growth hormones have been suggested to stimulate cell division. How much the prostate grows vary from one man to another and therefore not everyone will have visible symptoms.
The prostate gland is usually the size of a walnut. When it begins to grow, the bladder muscle compensates for the narrowed urethra by growing too, thus the bladder can compress harder to complete urination. This may cause the bladder to become more sensitive, which will cause you to feel the urge to urinate more often.
Later, the enlarged prostate may compress the urethra completely and this can cause difficulties when emptying the bladder, infection of the urinary tract or damage of the kidneys or the bladder.
What are the treatments for benign enlargement of the prostate?
Two types of medications are used to treat the condition; alpha-blockers, and 5-alpha-reductase. Alpha blockers acting as a muscle relaxant for muscle cells in the prostate, which relieve the pressure on the urethra. 5-alpha-reductase reduces the size of the prostate slowly. In some cases, surgery is needed.