What Is Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)? - Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Instructor: Virginia Rawls

Virginia has a master' degree in Education and a bachelors in Sports Medicine/athletic Training

Benign prostatic hyperplasia is a medical condition that causes an enlargement of the prostate gland. This lesson will discuss this condition and its causes, symptoms and treatment options.

What is Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia?

When a patient has non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate gland, it's referred to as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Benign is a medical term that is used when tumors or masses are identified as being non-cancerous. The prostate is a gland found only in males. It's part of the the genitourinary tract and produces fluid that nourishes sperm. The gland sits around the urethra, and when enlarged, it can restrict the urethra and lead to problems with urination.

A normal prostate compared to an enlarged prostate with BPH

Occurrence and Diagnosis

This condition is typically seen in older males - it occurs in high numbers among men over the age of 75 but is rare among those under the age of 50. In addition to age, genetics play a role in one's risk of BPH. The condition is diagnosed by a physician through a variety of tests, including:

  • Physical examination is conducted to assess the patient's overall health.
  • Urinalysis is done to check the overall health of the urinary system.
  • Rectal examination allows the physician to feel the prostate, which will help determine if it is enlarged or not.
  • Prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood testing is ordered to determine the presence of prostate cancer.

Symptoms of BPH

The symptoms of BPH revolve around the habits and patterns of voiding, which is a medical term for urination. Common symptoms of BPH include:

  • Difficulty voiding
  • Weak urine stream
  • Dribbling urine once you have stopped urinating
  • Having the constant feeling of having to urinate
  • Voiding several times during the night
  • An increase in urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Bladder or kidney stones

Treatment for BPH

There are several treatments available to patients who are diagnosed with benign prostatic hyperplasia. Patients can take medications that alleviate symptoms of BPH, such as:

  • 5-alpha reductase inhibitors reduce the size of the prostate gland by blocking hormones from getting to the gland.
  • Alpha blockers relax the bladder, making it easier to void.

A combination of both the 5-alpha reductase inhibitors and the alpha blockers is a great choice for patients who can tolerate being on both medications. Patients can also opt to undergo surgery to help with BPH symptoms. These procedures include:

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