BPH (Benign Prostate Hyperplasia)
- What is BPH (Benign Prostate Hyperplasia)?
- What problems can arise with BPH?
- At what age will I be most likely affected by BPH?
- What are the symptoms of BPH?
- Will my symptoms get worse as my prostate grows?
- Are there any complications that can arise as a result of BPH?
- Does BPH always require medical treatment?
- What treatments are available for BPH?
What is BPH (Benign Prostate Hyperplasia)?
The prostate is a gland found only in the male body. It is about the size of a chestnut and is located under the bladder surrounding the urethra (the tube that brings urine from the bladder to outside the body).
The prostate gland produces seminal fluid, which when mixed with sperm makes semen, which the man ejaculates during sexual climax.
It is normal, as a man gets older, for his prostate to grow larger. As this is often harmless, it is referred to as benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH), or benign enlargement of the prostate.
What problems can arise with BPH?
While the growth itself is harmless, it may eventually cause problems with urination. This is because the growing gland may start to press against the urethra, obstructing the flow of urine.
At what age will I be most likely affected by BPH?
As BPH is associated with getting older, it is rare to see symptoms in men under the age of 40. It most often occurs in men over the age of 60.
What are the symptoms of BPH?
There are a number of possible symptoms associated with BPH:
- Many attempts may be required to empty the bladder, as there may be a weak or interrupted flow of urine.
- You may experience a difficulty in starting the flow of urine. This can happen even if the bladder feels full.
- Even though no more urine will come, you may feel as though the bladder isn't empty yet.
- You may need to go to the toilet more often than usual during the day and night. Needing to urinate a lot at night is an early sign of BPH.
- You may experience an urgent need to go to the toilet, and this may result in a leakage of urine (urinary incontinence).
- You may experience pain or a burning sensation when urinating.
- There may be a dribbling of urine after you have urinated.
Will my symptoms get worse as my prostate grows?
Not necessarily. The size of the prostate does not always determine how severe the symptoms will be. Somebody with a very large prostate may actually have fewer problems than somebody with a smaller one.
Are there any complications that can arise as a result of BPH?
Yes. You might find that gradually it becomes harder to empty your bladder. This is known as chronic retention. As this condition develops, more and more urine is left in the bladder after urination.
For some men, urination may become impossible. This is known as acute retention. This is a very painful condition, and requires immediate medical treatment. If you are having any problems urinating, see your doctor immediately.
Other complications can include stones in the bladder, and cystitis (inflammation of the bladder, usually caused by an infection).
Does BPH always require medical treatment?
No. Medical treatment is only necessary if the symptoms are troublesome or if there are complications, such as acute retention. However if you have BPH, you should be monitored regularly by your doctor.
What treatments are available for BPH?
Mild symptoms do not require treatment.
For moderate symptoms, your doctor may recommend medications. These drugs will shrink the prostate gland but the long-term results are yet to be assessed.
For more severe symptoms, surgical removal of part of the prostate gland is usually required. This is most commonly undertaken through the urethra. The procedure is called transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP). Under general or spinal anaesthesia, a special type of cystoscope (a bladder viewing instrument) is inserted into the urethra. Once the prostate gland is seen, a heated wire loop is used to cut away the prostatic tissue that is obstructing the urethra. There are no scars after this surgery but a catheter (a tube to drain fluid) will be left in for several days to assist urine drainage.
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