What is BPH?

The Prostate
The prostate gland is a part of the male reproductive system that produces most of the seminal fluid. A normal prostate is the size of a chestnut and weighs about 20 grams. It is situated below the urinary bladder and surrounds parts of the urethra, which is the tube that carries urine from the bladder to exit the body.   

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia
(BPH) by Definition
The prostate begins to enlarge as a natural process of aging. In some men, the increase in size causes urination problems. Doctors refer to this condition as Benign (non-cancerous) Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) or benign prostatic syndrome (BPS). Not all men who have an enlarged prostate experience symptoms. Yet if the prostate gland begins to expand substantially, it presses on the urethra and narrows it (see Fig. 1). This leads to the typical voiding disorders. Today, many men suffer from the symptoms of BPH. The number increases with age: about 30 percent of men over 50, 40 percent of men over 60 and up to 50 percent of those over 70 years of age.1

What are the Symptoms of BPH?
BPH manifests a variety of symptoms1 that differ from patient to patient. The narrowing of the urethra causes various urination problems such as:
  • Difficulty starting to urinate
  • Sudden, recurrent urge to urinate
  • Dripping and leaking after urination
  • Interrupted, slow or weak urine stream
  • Frequent urination, especially at night
  • Painful, pushing or straining to urinate
  • Inability to empty the bladder completely 
Sometimes these symptoms can reduce the quality of life to such a great extent that those affected build their daily routines around the condition. They avoid drinking or plan their errands around easy access to toilet facilities. When symptoms are interfering with daily routine, it is highly recommended that patients consult a physician for an effective therapy. If BPH is not treated, it holds considerable risks. Without treatment it can lead to complications such as severe urinary tract infections, urinary retention or even kidney failure.

Notes
1. Roehrborn CG, McConnell JD, et al. AUA Guideline on the Management of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH). Available at: http://www.auanet.org/content/guidelines-and-quality-care/