As men age, it is common for the prostate to become enlarged, a condition known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). This enlargement can cause uncomfortable urinary symptoms, such as blocking the flow of urine out of the bladder. It can also lead to problems with the bladder, urinary tract, or kidneys. When the prostate enlarges, it puts pressure on the bladder and urethra, which is the tube through which urine passes.
By age 60, half of men will have an enlarged prostate, and by age 85, this proportion reaches 90%. Men may not need treatment for mild prostate enlargement unless their symptoms are bothersome and affect their quality of life. The severity of symptoms in people with an enlarged prostate varies, but they tend to worsen gradually over time. Some studies suggest that obese men and those with diabetes may be more likely to develop an enlarged prostate.
There is also some research that suggests that you may be at greater risk of developing an enlarged prostate if your father or brother has one. Finasteride and dutasteride work more slowly than alpha-blockers and are only useful for moderate prostate enlargement. The test helps the healthcare provider see if the prostate is enlarged or tender or has any abnormalities that require further testing. Early research suggested that 5-alpha-reductase (5-ARI) inhibitors, a class of drugs used to treat prostate enlargement, could increase the risk of developing more aggressive prostate cancer.
You may not have all of these symptoms, and some men with an enlarged prostate don't have any symptoms at all. In many men, this continuous growth enlarges the prostate enough to cause urinary symptoms or significantly block urine flow. However, we still need more studies on the causes of prostate enlargement to know for sure if and how we can prevent it. They can range from mild and barely noticeable to severe, but the degree of prostate enlargement is not directly related to the severity of the symptoms.