Enlargement of the Prostate or Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)

What Causes the Prostate to Enlarge?

There may be genetic factors involved. There may also be dietary factors involved, such as eating a lot of saturated fat and eating only small quantities of fresh fruit. Obesity is associated with more severe BPH symptoms. Regular exercise is thought to protect against BPH, as can moderate amounts of alcohol. The same healthy lifestyle choices for optimal health discussed earlier also seem to apply to this condition.

How Common Is BPH?

Benign enlargement of the prostate is very common and is almost a normal part of ageing. Its incidence rises dramatically as you age.

As you can see above, after a certain age it would be unusual not to have symptoms of an enlarged prostate.

Symptoms and Signs of BPH

You may have BPH and no symptoms whatsoever. However, as the prostate enlarges, it eventually begins to squeeze the urethral tube going through its centre. The common symptoms of BPH can include some or all of the following:

  • The need to urinate more frequently
  • Nocturia – the inability to sleep through the night without having to get up to urinate. Getting up at night several times to pass urine would not be unusual.
  • Urgency – the sudden, intense and sometimes uncontrollable urge to urinate quickly.
  • Difficulty in starting urination, also known as hesitancy
  • Weak stream – the flow of urine may be slow or weak and urination may be characterised by a repeated start-stop pattern that requires additional straining.
  • Terminal dribbling
  • Leaking or dribbling of urine. In more severe cases, a patient may develop ‘urge incontinence’, or the inability to get to the bathroom before losing control of their bladder.
  • In severe cases, urine retention can occur, resulting in a complete inability to urinate (this is, however, rare).

These symptoms are known together as ‘prostatism’. They can vary widely from one individual to another and men cialis pills Australia with similar degrees of prostate enlargement may be affected quite differently. This is an important point as ultimately any treatment decision for BPH should be judged on whether the symptoms are affecting your quality of life sufficiently to justify active treatment.

Diagnosis of BPH in its earlier stages can lower the risk of developing complications. The American Urological Association has devised a useful scoring system for BPH. This can help assess the severity of BPH and the need for treatment. It can be a useful monitoring tool to see if your BPH is getting worse over time. Check out the questionnaire on the next page and see how you fare.

Medical complications from BPH are uncommon. Occasionally it can progress to cause retention of urine but this tends to happen slowly over time. Other recognised complications can include kidney damage, bladder damage, urinary tract infections and bladder stones.