BPH (Benign Prostate Hyperplasia)
What is BPH (Benign Prostate
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
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
- 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
- There may be a dribbling of urine after you
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
Other complications can include stones in the bladder,
and cystitis (inflammation of the bladder, usually caused by an infection).
Does BPH always require medical
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
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.
Back to top of page