As men get older, it is common for the prostrate to enlarge. BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia) can cause problematic urinary symptoms. If left untreated, BPH can lead to long-term urinary tract complications.

Causes of BPH or an Enlarged Prostate

The prostate gland is an organ found below the bladder that produces most of the fluid that makes up semen—the white milky substance that transports sperm. The urethra, the tube that transports urine from the bladder out of the penis, passes through the prostate; therefore, if the prostate is enlarged, it obstructs urine flow. Although the prostate continues to grow with age in most men, doctors are not clear on what causes BPH or enlarged prostate. Some believe it is the change in sex hormones.

Symptoms of BPH or an Enlarged Prostate

The symptoms of an enlarged prostate often worsen over time and vary in severity. Most common symptoms include:

  • Difficulty urinating
  • Stopping and starting during urination
  • Weak urine stream
  • Frequent and/or urgent need to urinate
  • Increased need to urinate at night
  • Kidney stones
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Problems with kidney function

Enlarged prostates affect men in different ways: some men never need to seek medical attention because symptoms are not bothersome. In some cases, BPH or enlarged prostate symptoms will improve over time.

Risk Factors for BPH or Enlarged Prostate

There are three main factors for BPH or Enlarged Prostate:

  • Location: Certain countries of origin have higher BPH rates including America and Australia. Chinese, Japanese, and Indian men have lower rates of enlarged prostates.
  • Family History: If an immediate family member has experienced prostate problems, you are more likely to experience them.
  • Age: Half of men over the age of 75 experience problems associated with an enlarged prostate, a quarter of men between 55 and 74 experience them. Men under 40 rarely have enlarged prostate problems.

Complications from BPH or Enlarged Prostates

When a man is unable to empty his bladder over a period of time due to BPH or enlarged prostate, serious complications may occur:

  • Urinary tract infections
  • Bladder stones
  • Bladder damage
  • Kidney infections
  • Acute urinary retention

When to see a Doctor for BPH or an Enlarged Prostate

Men who have urinary problems are encouraged to see a doctor to check for an enlarged prostate. Sometimes treatment is not necessary if urinary problems are not bothersome enough, but other medical conditions, such as prostate cancer, should be ruled out. If it is not possible to pass urine, a doctor should be seen immediately.

Doctors will use a series of different tests to determine whether urinary symptoms are caused by a BPH or enlarged prostate and rule out other causes. If BPH or an enlarged prostate is causing your symptoms, various forms of therapy including lifestyle changes and medication can be used to treat it. If symptoms become too problematic, numerous surgical interventions are available to treat BPH or enlarged prostate.

Jean Brown Research is now recruiting patients for the L.O.C.A.L. Study. The clinical study objectives are to assess safety and effectiveness through 5 years post procedure and specifically to evaluate procedure tolerability and surgical recovery of an investigational BPH procedure, the UroLift® System procedure, when conducted with local anesthesia. It will also assess health economics, patient satisfaction, and sexual function throughout the first year post procedure.

Learn more about the prostate clinical study and see if you qualify.