Male Reproductive Disorders: BPH Video

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  • 0:02 BPH
  • 0:28 Risk Factors & Statistics
  • 1:19 Signs & Symptoms
  • 4:11 Diagnosis & Treatment
  • 6:56 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
Can you get kidney disease from benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)? Urinary tract infections? Bladder stones? It can't be!?! BPH is something many men experience. This lesson tells you what it is, what to expect, and why it occurs and causes all those symptoms.

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia

As Little Red Riding Hood found out, big eyes are good for seeing, big ears are good for hearing, and big teeth could get her eaten. But some big things are good for nothing. One of these things affects a considerable proportion of men as they age. It's a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate gland called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).

BPH Risk Factors and Statistics

The prostate gland is something only men have, so the ladies out there don't need to fear this lesson's big bad wolf. But some men are more likely to get BPH than others - men that:

  • Have a family history of BPH
  • Are over the age of 40
  • Live in the Western world


  • About one-third of men over 50 are negatively affected by BPH.
  • Over 90% of men aged 85 report symptoms associated with BPH.
  • African American men tend to get more severe forms of BPH when compared to white men.
  • It's likely that all men, with a little asterisk there, who live long enough, will develop BPH. The asterisk is that men who have been castrated for any reason do not develop BPH.

BPH Signs and Symptoms

Men with an enlarged prostate may have a combination of the following signs and symptoms:

  • Difficulty starting urination
  • Starting and stopping during urination
  • A weak urine stream
  • An increased urge to urinate
  • An increased frequency of urination, especially at night
  • Straining while urinating
  • Dribbling at the end of urination
  • An inability to fully empty their bladder

The reason these signs occur is because the bladder that holds your urine has a tube it connects to, called the urethra, which empties the bladder's urine out into the toilet bowl. The urethra runs through the prostate gland on its way out of the bladder. If the prostate gland enlarges with age as a result of changes caused by the hormones testosterone and DHT, the prostate squeezes down on the urethra, thereby making it more difficult to urinate.

The urethra is just like a straw, and if you put a straw in your mouth and squeeze it almost shut, it's going to be very difficult to expel any air out. You must consider that as a consequence of this, the bladder now has a difficult time expelling urine out as its muscles contract in order to do so. As a result, the bladder wall becomes thickened - like your muscles thicken when they have to work out really hard.

The bladder wall also become irritable, just like you'd become pretty irritable if you couldn't expel any air out through the straw despite trying really hard. This increased irritability of the bladder due to BPH is thought to contribute to the frequent urge to urinate. After a while, you would tire of trying to blow air out of a partially closed straw, and so the bladder also tires and weakens after some time due to BPH.

This ends up causing an inability to fully empty the bladder because the bladder is weak. Such a problem - the inability to fully empty the bladder - is a great way to predispose a person to a urinary tract infection and bladder stones because diminished urine flow is a huge component of these two problems. This is why men with BPH are predisposed to urinary tract infections and bladder stones.

Furthermore, in serious cases of BPH, men can develop kidney disease. This is because as urine backs up in the urinary system, the kidneys stop making urine since they think it has nowhere to go, and they start to shut down as a consequence of this. Essentially, the person has reduced kidney function.

So, the point here is that the prostate gland isn't the sole player involved in all of the signs and symptoms we discussed before. There's a whole domino effect going on here, and thus, BPH should be diagnosed and treated ASAP.

Diagnosis and Treatment of BPH

Speaking of diagnoses and treatments, let's get to that then, shall we? Diagnostic options for BPH include:

  • The dreaded digital rectal examination. It's precisely what it sounds like. Finger? Check. Latex glove? Check. Lubrication? Yes, please! It's a wonderful tool and a great way for a doctor to tell if the prostate is too large despite the slight discomfort.
  • Another test is a PSA, or prostate-specific antigen test, that looks for elevations of the protein of the same name. It can be elevated in prostate cancer as well, though; that is why the digital rectal examination is so important.

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