Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) : Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) : Causes, Symptoms, Treatment
Published : Feb 04, 2024
Last Updated : Feb 07, 2024

What is Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)?

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, and 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:

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.

Medications for an enlarged prostate:

To ease the discomfort caused due to an enlarged prostate, some prescription medicines may help. These medicines can treat mild to moderate symptoms of an enlarged prostate. It Includes medicines such as:


Alpha-blockers are from the class of medications that are mainly used to treat high blood pressure. But these drugs are also known to treat certain conditions that affect the circulatory system. Also, it helps treat the symptoms of enlarged prostate and certain types of tumors. These drugs relax the smooth muscle cells in the neck of the bladder and the prostate. Thus, it helps to make peeing easier and prevents urinary discomfort.

Alpha-blockers are available as:

  • Alfuzosin (Uroxatral)
  • Silodosin (Rapaflo)
  • Terazosin
  • Tamsulosin (Flomax)
  • Doxazosin (Cardura)

These medications respond quickly in people with smaller prostates and work effectively. The common side effect that these Alpha blockers may include is dizziness. Also, these drugs may include a harmless side effect known as retrograde ejaculation. In this condition, the semen goes back into the bladder instead of being out of the tip of the penis.

5-alpha reductase inhibitors

These medications belong to a group of drugs that helps treat an enlarged prostate gland. Preventing hormone that leads to the prostate's growth helps to shrink the prostate. In this way, 5-alpha reductase inhibitors effectively treat the symptoms of an Enlarged prostate. Medications that they include are:

5-alpha reductase inhibitors may take up to six months to treat the condition of enlarged prostate in people. As side effects, these medicines may cause sexual problems in some consumers. Also, 5-alpha reductase inhibitors are used to treat male pattern hair loss.

Combination therapy

Your Doctor might suggest you combine the use of drugs like an alpha-blocker and a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor at the same time. They usually suggest their combined therapy when any of them alone is not enough to help in the treatment.

Tadalafil (Cialis)

Tadalafil belongs to a class of drugs known as PDE5 inhibitors, mainly used to treat impotence(Ed). Studies found that it is also helpful in treating an enlarged prostate. Acting on the smooth muscles of the bladder and prostate effectively treats the urinary symptoms caused due to an enlarged prostate.

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


Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is a common condition in men as they get older, and it has a variety of signs and symptoms that can range from mild to severe. While the exact cause is not known, there are several risk factors including age and lifestyle choices that may increase your chances of developing BPH. Treatment options vary depending on the severity of symptoms, but medications such as alpha-blockers and 5-alpha reductase inhibitors are often used to treat BPH. If you think you might be suffering from this condition, it's important to speak with your doctor so they can help diagnose and manage your symptoms.