Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy (BPH)


An enlarged prostate gland, medically known as benign prostatic hypertrophy or benign prostatic hyperplasia (abbreviated BPH), is a common medical problem in men over age 60. The prostate is a gland that wraps around the urethra below the bladder and between the pubic bone and the rectum. It stores and secretes a fluid that makes up part of the seminal fluid that constitutes semen. The prostate also contains some muscles that help with ejaculation.

After age 40, the prostate often begins to enlarge. When the prostate gland enlarges, it puts pressure on the urethra, causing it to narrow. This causes problems with the ability to urinate. Urinary problems include difficulty starting urination, a weak urine stream, leaking urine, frequent and strong urges to urinate, and bladder infections. In severe cases of benign prostatic hypertrophy, men may become unable to urinate at all and kidney damage may result. The inability to urinate at all is considered a medical emergency and requires immediate medical attention.

Now let's talk about how you can prevent serious complications from BPH.


It is difficult to prevent benign prostatic hypertrophy since it can be part of the natural aging process. There are, however, things you can do to lower the risk of serious complications from BPH.

You should get an annual prostate exam after age 40. This way your doctor will catch signs of benign prostatic hyperplasia early and can begin treatment before the condition worsens and becomes more serious.

To prevent bladder infections, drink plenty of water. Doctors recommend eight to ten glasses a day. This will prevent bacteria from growing in the bladder. Cranberry juice can also help prevent bladder infections by increasing the acidity of the urine and preventing the growth of bacteria.

Now let's talk about treatment for BPH.


Doctors generally treat benign prostatic hyperplasia with medication. Most medications for BPH are designed to shrink the prostate gland. Other medications for benign prostatic hypertrophy relax the muscles in the prostate glands. Both types of medications relieve the pressure on the urethra, allowing urine to pass more easily. Both types of medications carry the risks of many potential side effects, however. Possible side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, backache, chest pain, cough, sore throat, sinus problems, dizziness, drowsiness, depression, and sexual side effects. One commonly prescribed medication for benign prostatic hypertrophy, finasteride, can cause birth defects if handled by pregnant women.

If medication does not work, surgery is usually advised. In the most common surgery for benign prostatic hyperplasia, the surgeon enters the body through the urethra and scrapes away part of the prostrate gland. If this surgery is not feasible for some reason, external incisions are made and the surgeon enters the body from the outside. Sometimes laser surgery is an option. Side effects of surgery can include significant pain during the recovery process, post-operative infection, urinary incontinence, and sexual side effects.

Naturally, men want to avoid the risks of medication and surgical treatment for BPH. Therefore, many men are looking to natural treatment options instead. Natural treatments often don't have side effects, and they may have other health benefits as well.

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When To See Your Doctor

See your doctor for an annual prostate exam after age 40. See a doctor if you have symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia. Ask your doctor about natural treatments for BPH.

More than benign prostatic hypertrophy on our enlarged prostate page

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