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What is an enlarged Prostate?

An enlarged prostate, also known as Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) is an enlarge prostate gland which surrounds the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body. As the prostate gets bigger, it may squeeze or partly block the urethra, often causing problems with urinating. An enlarged prostate occurs in almost all men as they age; it is not cancer, but can be a nuisance. It is usually not a serious problem. About half of all men older than 75 have some symptoms.


What are the symptoms of an enlarged prostate?

An enlarged prostate causes urinary problems such as:

  • Trouble getting a urine stream started and completely stopped
  • Often feeling like you need to urinate; this feeling may even wake you up at night
  • A weak urine stream
  • A sense that your bladder is not completely empty after you urinate

In a small number of cases, enlarged prostates may cause the bladder to be blocked, making it impossible or extremely hard to urinate. This problem may cause backed-up urine, leading to bladder infections, stones, or kidney damage. An enlarged prostate does not cause prostate cancer and does not affect a man's ability to father children; it does not cause erection problems either.


How is an enlarged Prostate diagnosed?

Your physician can diagnose an enlarged prostate by asking questions regarding your symptoms and past health history, and by completing a physical exam. Tests may include a urine test and a digital rectal exam, which allows your physician to feel the size of your prostate. Your physician may also ask how often you have symptoms of an enlarged prostate, how severe they are, and how much they affect your life. If your symptoms are mild to moderate and do not bother you much, home treatment may be all that you need to help keep them under control. Your physician may want to see you regularly to check on your symptoms and make sure other problems haven't come up.