Overview of Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) - Symptoms and causes

Overview of Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) - Symptoms and causes

Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is also known as prostate gland enlargement and is a common condition in men as they get older. An enlarged prostate gland often causes uncomfortable urinary symptoms like blocking the flow of urine out of your bladder. It can also cause bladder, kidney problems, or urinary tract issues. 

The main function of the prostate is to generate fluid for the semen which is the milky fluid in which your sperm swims. Sperm is produced in the testicles which are also responsible for making the main male hormone testosterone.

During puberty, testosterone stimulates the growth as well as the function of the prostate, helping with the production of fluid for semen.

How common is benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)?

In men, BPH is the most common prostate problem. As men grow older, almost each of them develops some enlargement of the prostate. By age of 60, 50% of men will experience some signs of BPH, by age of 85, 90% of men are going to have the signs of BPH. About half of these men will develop the symptoms of BPH that require to be treated.  

Symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)

The seriousness of symptoms in people who experience prostate gland enlargement differs, but symptoms tend to worsen with time. However, some of the common signs and symptoms of BPH include:

  • Difficulty in starting urination
  • Frequent or urgent need to urinate
  • Inability to empty the bladder
  • Increased frequency of urination at night
  • Weak urine stream or a stream that stops and starts
  • Dribbling at the end of urination

Less common signs and symptoms of BPH include:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Inability to urinate

Keep one thing in your mind, the size of your prostate is not necessarily going to determine the seriousness of your symptoms. Some men with only slightly enlarged prostates might have significant symptoms while other men with highly enlarged prostates can have minor urinary symptoms only.   

On the other hand, in some men, symptoms ultimately stabilize and improve with time.

How does the prostate work?

It is important to know that the prostate is part of the male reproductive system and is a job to make fluid for your semen. It is about the size of a walnut and weighs an ounce almost.    

The prostate sits right below the bladder and in front of your rectum. It goes around a tube known as the urethra. The urethra is responsible for carrying urine right from the bladder and out through the male reproductive organ.  

Causes of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)

Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) turns out to be common in men, mainly after the age of 50. The precise cause is yet not known but possibly involves changes that are caused by hormones, including testosterone especially dihydrotestosterone ( a hormone that is related to testosterone).

Drugs like over-the-counter antihistamines as well as nasal decongestants might increase resistance to the flow of urine or decrease the ability of the bladder to contract, leading to temporary blockage of your urine flow out of the bladder in men suffering from BPH.

Some of the risk factors for prostate gland enlargement are stated below:


Prostate gland enlargement hardly causes signs and symptoms in men who are below the age of 40 years. Almost one-third of men experience moderate to serious symptoms by age of 60 and about half of them experience them by 80 years of age.


Obesity is often responsible for increasing the risk of BPH. However, exercising regularly can lower your risk of obesity.

Family history

Having a blood relative like a brother or father with prostate problems might increase your chances of suffering from BPH.

Diabetes and heart disease

Diabetes, heart disease, as well as the use of beta-blockers, often increase your risk of BPH.

Complications of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)

Sudden inability to urinate

You might require to have a tube inserted into your bladder to drain the urine. Some men with enlarged prostate problems need to undergo surgery to relieve their urinary retention issues.

Bladder stones

This condition is generally caused by an inability to empty your bladder completely. Bladder stones can cause blood in the urine, bladder irritation, and obstruction of urine flow.

Bladder damage

A bladder that has not been emptied can stretch and also weaken with time. This further makes it difficult for your muscular wall of the bladder to contract.

Not getting the right treatment for BPH at right time will increase your risk of experiencing these complications.

Therefore, if you experience the symptoms of BPH, meet the doctor immediately and start the treatment accordingly without any delay.