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Men's Health Line - Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia

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Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia
Introduction and Causes Symptoms and Effects
Prevention Treatment and Self-help

Introduction and Causes
Symptoms and Effects
Treatment and Self-help

What is benign prostatic hyperplasia?

The prostate is a male sex gland which produces a thick fluid that forms part of the semen. Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is an enlargement of the prostate due to non-cancerous growth within the gland.

What causes it?

It is believed to be due to a normal physiological process of aging.

Although the growth is benign, progressive enlargement of the gland may cause significant obstruction of the urethra and interfere with the normal flow of urine.


Benign prostatic hyperplasia affects more than half of all men aged over 60 years, and up to 90% of men aged over 80 years.

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What are the common symptoms?

Not every men with BPH experience symptoms. Less than half of all men with BPH do not show any symptoms of the disease. For the symptomatic ones, common symptoms are:

  • Urgency: finding it difficult to postpone urination
  • Hesitancy: having to wait before you start to urinate
  • Frequency: having to urinate more often than previously
  • Nocturia: needing to get up at night to urinate
  • Weak urine flow
  • A burning sensation or pain while urinating

In sever cases, the bladder cannot expel urine and results in urinary retention, causing swelling and pain in the lower abdominal area.

Many symptoms of BPH are similar to those found with prostate cancer, but they are not related. Having BPH does not automatically increase the risk of prostate cancer.

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How can I prevent it?

The benign enlargement of the prostate is a normal physiological process. There is no specific preventive method.

What should I do if I have suspicious symptoms?

If you notice any symptoms as described above, you should consult a doctor immediately.

For suspected cases, the doctor may carry out some investigations. These include rectal examination, blood tests, urine tests, ultrasound examination and procedures to obtain tissue samples for laboratory examination to isolate any cancerous cells.


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What is the treatment?

The doctor will recommend the optimal treatment depending on the size of prostate gland, along with the extent to which it affects the patient's life, and the presence of any other medical conditions. For some men, especially those who are old or having other medical problems, the "treatment" of choice may simply be "watchful waiting" with regular medical examination to monitor the situation and prevent complications.

Effective treatments for BPH include surgery and drug therapies, alone or in combination, to decrease the size of the prostate or reduce the severity of symptoms.

How can I help myself?

If you have a diagnosis of BPH, there are many things you can do to cope better and to improve your quality of life, including:

  • Avoid drinking large volumes of fluids at one time, or before bed.
  • Limit your intake of drinks containing alcohol or caffeine.
  • Use prescribed medications properly. Some cough mixtures, anti-cold or decongestant medications may aggravate the symptoms.
  • Treat urinary infection early.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.

Understand your illness and its treatment will enable you to cope better. If you have any suspicions, you should seek medical advice.

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