Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) in Iran — also called prostate gland enlargement — is a common condition as men get older. An enlarged prostate gland can cause uncomfortable urinary symptoms, such as blocking the flow of urine out of the bladder. It can also cause bladder, urinary tract or kidney problems.
There are several effective treatments for prostate gland enlargement, including medications, minimally invasive therapies and surgery. To choose the best option, you and your doctor will consider your symptoms, the size of your prostate, other health conditions you might have and your preferences.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia—also called BPH—is a condition in men in which the prostate gland is enlarged and not cancerous. Benign prostatic hyperplasia is also called benign prostatic hypertrophy or benign prostatic obstruction.
The prostate goes through two main growth periods as a man ages. The first occurs early in puberty, when the prostate doubles in size. The second phase of growth begins around age 25 and continues during most of a man’s life. Benign prostatic hyperplasia often occurs with the second growth phase.
As the prostate enlarges, the gland presses against and pinches the urethra. The bladder wall becomes thicker. Eventually, the bladder may weaken and lose the ability to empty completely, leaving some urine in the bladder. The narrowing of the urethra and urinary retention—the inability to empty the bladder completely—cause many of the problems associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia.
What causes benign prostatic hyperplasia?
The cause of benign prostatic hyperplasia is not well understood; however, it occurs mainly in older men. Benign prostatic hyperplasia does not develop in men whose testicles were removed before puberty. For this reason, some researchers believe factors related to aging and the testicles may cause benign prostatic hyperplasia.
Throughout their lives, men produce testosterone, a male hormone, and small amounts of estrogen, a female hormone. As men age, the amount of active testosterone in their blood decreases, which leaves a higher proportion of estrogen. Scientific studies have suggested that benign prostatic hyperplasia may occur because the higher proportion of estrogen within the prostate increases the activity of substances that promote prostate cell growth.
Another theory focuses on dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a male hormone that plays a role in prostate development and growth. Some research has indicated that even with a drop in blood testosterone levels, older men continue to produce and accumulate high levels of DHT in the prostate. This accumulation of DHT may encourage prostate cells to continue to grow. Scientists have noted that men who do not produce DHT do not develop benign prostatic hyperplasia.
Risk factors for prostate gland enlargement include:
. Aging. Prostate gland enlargement rarely causes signs and symptoms in men younger than age 40. About one-third of men experience moderate to severe symptoms by age 60, and about half do so by age 80.
. Family history. Having a blood relative, such as a father or a brother, with prostate problems means you're more likely to have problems.
. Diabetes and heart disease. Studies show that diabetes, as well as heart disease and use of beta blockers, might increase the risk of BPH.
. Lifestyle. Obesity increases the risk of BPH, while exercise can lower your risk.
Symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia
Lower urinary tract symptoms suggestive of benign prostatic hyperplasia may include:
. Urinary frequency—urination eight or more times a day
. Urinary urgency—the inability to delay urination
. Trouble starting a urine stream
. A weak or an interrupted urine stream
. Dribbling at the end of urination
. nocturia—frequent urination during periods of sleep
. Urinary retention
. Urinary incontinence—the accidental loss of urine
. Pain after ejaculation or during urination
. Urine that has an unusual color or smell
Symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia most often come from
. A blocked urethra
. A bladder that is overworked from trying to pass urine through the blockage
The size of the prostate does not always determine the severity of the blockage or symptoms. Some men with greatly enlarged prostates have little blockage and few symptoms, while other men who have minimally enlarged prostates have greater blockage and more symptoms. Less than half of all men with benign prostatic hyperplasia have lower urinary tract symptoms.
Sometimes men may not know they have a blockage until they cannot urinate. This condition, called acute urinary retention, can result from taking over-the-counter cold or allergy medications that contain decongestants, such as pseudoephedrine and oxymetazoline. A potential side effect of these medications may prevent the bladder neck from relaxing and releasing urine. Medications that contain antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine, can weaken the contraction of bladder muscles and cause urinary retention, difficulty urinating, and painful urination. When men have partial urethra blockage, urinary retention also can occur as a result of alcohol consumption, cold temperatures, or a long period of inactivity.
Your doctor will start by asking detailed questions about your symptoms and doing a physical exam. This initial exam is likely to include:
. Digital rectal exam. The doctor inserts a finger into the rectum to check your prostate for enlargement.
. Urine test. Analyzing a sample of your urine can help rule out an infection or other conditions that can cause similar symptoms.
. Blood test. The results can indicate kidney problems.
. Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test. PSA is a substance produced in your prostate. PSA levels increase when you have an enlarged prostate. However, elevated PSA levels can also be due to recent procedures, infection, surgery or prostate cancer.
After that, your doctor might recommend additional tests to help confirm an enlarged prostate and to rule out other conditions. These tests include:
. Urinary flow test. You urinate into a receptacle attached to a machine that measures the strength and amount of your urine flow. Test results help determine over time if your condition is getting better or worse.
. Postvoid residual volume test. This test measures whether you can empty your bladder completely. The test can be done using ultrasound or by inserting a catheter into your bladder after you urinate to measure how much urine is left in your bladder.
. 24-hour voiding diary. Recording the frequency and amount of urine might be especially helpful if more than one-third of your daily urinary output occurs at night.
If your condition is more complex, your doctor may recommend:
. Transrectal ultrasound. An ultrasound probe is inserted into your rectum to measure and evaluate your prostate.
. Prostate biopsy. Transrectal ultrasound guides needles used to take tissue samples (biopsies) of the prostate. Examining the tissue can help your doctor diagnose or rule out prostate cancer.
. Urodynamic and pressure flow studies. A catheter is threaded through your urethra into your bladder. Water — or, less commonly, air — is slowly injected into your bladder. Your doctor can then measure bladder pressure and determine how well your bladder muscles are working. These studies are usually used only in men with suspected neurological problems and in men who have had a previous prostate procedure and still have symptoms.
. Cystoscopy. A lighted, flexible instrument (cystoscope) is inserted into your urethra, allowing your doctor to see inside your urethra and bladder. You will be given a local anesthetic before this test.
Complications of an enlarged prostate can include:
. Sudden inability to urinate (urinary retention). You might need to have a tube (catheter) inserted into your bladder to drain the urine. Some men with an enlarged prostate need surgery to relieve urinary retention.
. Urinary tract infections (UTIs). Inability to fully empty the bladder can increase the risk of infection in your urinary tract. If UTIs occur frequently, you might need surgery to remove part of the prostate.
. Bladder stones. These are generally caused by an inability to completely empty the bladder. Bladder stones can cause infection, bladder irritation, blood in the urine and obstruction of urine flow.
. Bladder damage. A bladder that hasn't emptied completely can stretch and weaken over time. As a result, the muscular wall of the bladder no longer contracts properly, making it harder to fully empty your bladder.
. Kidney damage. Pressure in the bladder from urinary retention can directly damage the kidneys or allow bladder infections to reach the kidneys.
Most men with an enlarged prostate don't develop these complications. However, acute urinary retention and kidney damage can be serious health threats.
Having an enlarged prostate is not believed to increase your risk of developing prostate cancer.
Men with the following factors are more likely to develop benign prostatic hyperplasia:
. Age 40 years and older
. Family history of benign prostatic hyperplasia
. Medical conditions such as obesity, heart and circulatory disease, and type 2 diabetes.
. Lack of physical exercise
. Erectile dysfunction
Researchers have not found a way to prevent benign prostatic hyperplasia. Men with risk factors for benign prostatic hyperplasia should talk with a health care provider about any lower urinary tract symptoms and the need for regular prostate exams. Men can get early treatment and minimize benign prostatic hyperplasia effects by recognizing lower urinary tract symptoms and identifying an enlarged prostate.
A wide variety of treatments are available for enlarged prostate, including medication, minimally invasive therapies and surgery. The best treatment choice for you depends on several factors, including:
The size of your prostate
Your overall health
The amount of discomfort or bother you are experiencing
If your symptoms are tolerable, you might decide to postpone treatment and simply monitor your symptoms. For some men, symptoms can ease without treatment.
Medication is the most common treatment for mild to moderate symptoms of prostate enlargement. The options include:
. Alpha blockers. These medications relax bladder neck muscles and muscle fibers in the prostate, making urination easier. Alpha blockers — which include alfuzosin (Uroxatral), doxazosin (Cardura), tamsulosin (Flomax) and silodosin (Rapaflo) — usually work quickly in men with relatively small prostates. Side effects might include dizziness and a harmless condition in which semen goes back into the bladder instead of out the tip of the penis (retrograde ejaculation).
. 5-alpha reductase inhibitors. These medications shrink your prostate by preventing hormonal changes that cause prostate growth. These medications — which include finasteride (Proscar) and dutasteride (Avodart) — might take up to six months to be effective. Side effects include retrograde ejaculation.
. Combination drug therapy. Your doctor might recommend taking an alpha blocker and a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor at the same time if either medication alone isn't effective.
. Tadalafil (Cialis). Studies suggest this medication, which is often used to treat erectile dysfunction, can also treat prostate enlargement.
Minimally invasive or surgical therapy might be recommended if:
. Your symptoms are moderate to severe
. Medication hasn't relieved your symptoms
. You have a urinary tract obstruction, bladder stones, blood in your urine or kidney problems.
. You prefer definitive treatment
Minimally invasive or surgical therapy might not be an option if you have:
. An untreated urinary tract infection
. Urethral stricture disease
. A history of prostate radiation therapy or urinary tract surgery
. A neurological disorder, such as Parkinson's disease or multiple sclerosis
There are several types of minimally invasive or surgical therapies.
A lighted scope is inserted into your urethra, and the surgeon removes all but the outer part of the prostate. TURP generally relieves symptoms quickly, and most men have a stronger urine flow soon after the procedure. After TURP you might temporarily need a catheter to drain your bladder.
A lighted scope is inserted into your urethra, and the surgeon makes one or two small cuts in the prostate gland — making it easier for urine to pass through the urethra. This surgery might be an option if you have a small or moderately enlarged prostate gland, especially if you have health problems that make other surgeries too risky.
Your doctor inserts a special electrode through your urethra into your prostate area. Microwave energy from the electrode destroys the inner portion of the enlarged prostate gland, shrinking it and easing urine flow. TUMT might only partially relieve your symptoms, and it might take some time before you notice results. This surgery is generally used only on small prostates in special circumstances because re-treatment might be necessary.
In this procedure, a scope is passed into your urethra, allowing your doctor to place needles into your prostate gland. Radio waves pass through the needles, heating and destroying excess prostate tissue that's blocking urine flow. TUNA may be an option in select cases, but the procedure is rarely used any longer.
A high-energy laser destroys or removes overgrown prostate tissue. Laser therapy generally relieves symptoms right away and has a lower risk of side effects than does nonlaser surgery. Laser therapy might be used in men who shouldn't have other prostate procedures because they take blood-thinning medications.
The options for laser therapy include:
. Ablative procedures. These procedures vaporize obstructive prostate tissue to increase urine flow. Examples include photo selective vaporization of the prostate (PVP) and holmium laser ablation of the prostate (HoLAP). Ablative procedures can cause irritating urinary symptoms after surgery, so in rare situations another resection procedure might be needed at some point.
. Enucleative procedures. Enucleative procedures, such as holmium laser enucleation of the prostate (HoLEP), generally remove all the prostate tissue blocking urine flow and prevent regrowth of tissue. The removed tissue can be examined for prostate cancer and other conditions. These procedures are similar to open prostatectomy.
Special tags are used to compress the sides of the prostate to increase the flow of urine. The procedure might be recommended if you have lower urinary tract symptoms. PUL also might be offered to some men concerned about treatment impact on erectile dysfunction and ejaculatory problems, since the effect on ejaculation and sexual function is much lower with PUL that it is with TURP.
In this experimental procedure, the blood supply to or from the prostate is selectively blocked, causing the prostate to decrease in size. Long-term data on the effectiveness of this procedure aren't available.
Open or robot-assisted prostatectomy
The surgeon makes an incision in your lower abdomen to reach the prostate and remove tissue. Open prostatectomy is generally done if you have a very large prostate, bladder damage or other complicating factors. The surgery usually requires a short hospital stay and is associated with a higher risk of needing a blood transfusion.
How common is benign prostate enlargement?
Benign (noncancerous) enlargement of the prostate, known as benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH, is the most common prostate problem in men. Almost all men will develop some enlargement of the prostate as they age.
Who is affected by prostate enlargement?
Overall, the number of men with BPH increases progressively with age. By age 60, 50% of men will have some signs of BPH. By age 85, 90% of men will have signs of the condition. About half of these men will develop symptoms that need to be treated.
Does having benign prostatic hyperplasia increase your risk of developing prostate cancer?
Based on research to date, having BPH does not seem to increase the risk of developing prostate cancer. However, BPH and prostate cancer have similar symptoms, and a man who has BPH may have undetected cancer at the same time.
To help detect prostate cancer in its early stages, we recommend a screening every year for men ages 50 to 70. They further recommend that men who are at high risk – such as African-American men and men with a family history of prostate cancer – begin screening at about age 40. Screening tests for prostate cancer include a blood test for a substance called prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and the digital rectal exam (DRE).