When a man's prostate becomes enlarged, it can cause uncomfortable urinary symptoms and put pressure on the bladder and urethra. Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), also known as prostate enlargement, is a common condition in men as they age. The prostate is a male gland located below the bladder and is about the size of a chestnut. As men age, the prostate usually increases in size, which can cause the urethra to narrow and lead to several symptoms of BPH.
These symptoms may include a slow or delayed onset of urination, the need to urinate frequently during the night, difficulty emptying the bladder, a strong and sudden need to urinate, and incontinence. Less than half of all men with BPH have symptoms of the disease or their symptoms are mild and do not limit their lifestyle. Treatment options are available and are based on the severity of symptoms, the extent to which they affect lifestyle, and the presence of other medical conditions. Early signs usually include a weak flow during urination or a loss of urine during the night.
You may feel that your abdomen (stomach area) is swollen or that you are not emptying your bladder completely. Some studies show that obese men and men who have diabetes may be more likely to develop an enlarged prostate. Antibiotics may be used if the prostate is chronically inflamed due to bacterial prostatitis related to BPH. There's also some research that suggests that you may have a higher risk of developing an enlarged prostate if your father or brother has one.
Prostate enlargement isn't usually serious, but it can have a serious impact on your lifestyle, especially when you're always going to the bathroom. If you have bothersome symptoms, medications can reduce the size of your prostate and relax your bladder and prostate so that you don't constantly feel the need to go to the bathroom. Transurethral prostate incision (TUIP), in which a few small cuts are made in the prostate to reduce the pressure of the gland on the urethra, is another treatment option for those with an enlarged prostate. Men with BPH should see their doctor once a year to monitor the progression of symptoms and decide on the best treatment, as needed.
Prostate enlargement is a normal physiological process of aging, but it can still have an impact on your life if left untreated. It's important to talk to your doctor if you think you may have an enlarged prostate so that you can get proper treatment and relief from bothersome symptoms.