What is it?
- Benign prostate hypertrophy, also called prostate enlargement or BPH, is a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate gland. The prostate enlarges slowly, and over time puts increasing pressure on the urethra and the base of the bladder.
- The prostate is a gland found only in men, forms an important part of the reproductive system. It secretes a fluid that keeps sperm alive and healthy and that forms part of semen.
The prostate is found behind the base of the penis and underneath the bladder. The urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the penis, runs through the middle of the prostate.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of benign prostate enlargement are caused by the enlarged prostate placing pressure on the bladder and urethra (which carries urine from the bladder to the penis).
This can affect urination in a number of ways. For example, it can:
make it difficult for you to start urinating
weaken the flow of urine or cause “stopping and starting”
cause you to strain to pass urine
cause you to need to urinate frequently
cause you to wake up frequently during the night to urinate
cause a sudden urge to urinate, which can result in urinary incontinence if you can’t find a toilet quickly enough
cause you to not be able to empty your bladder fully
cause blood in the urine (haematuria)
In the later stages, benign prostate enlargement can cause urine retention and other complications such as bladder stones, bladder infections and kidney damage.*
- Limit beverages in the evening.
- Go when you first feel the urge. Waiting too long might overstretch the bladder muscle and cause damage.
- Schedule bathroom visits. Try to urinate at regular times — such as every four to six hours during the day — to “retrain” the bladder. This can be especially useful if you have severe frequency and urgency.
- Follow a healthy diet. Obesity is associated with enlarged prostate.
- Stay active. Inactivity contributes to urine retention. Even a small amount of exercise can help reduce urinary problems caused by an enlarged prostate.
- Urinate — and then urinate again a few moments later. This practice is known as double voiding.
- Keep warm. Colder temperatures can cause urine retention and increase the urgency to urinate.
- Don’t drink anything for an hour or two before bedtime to avoid middle-of-the-night trips to the toilet.
- Limit caffeine and alcohol. They can increase urine production, irritate the bladder and worsen symptoms.
- Limit decongestants or antihistamines. These drugs tighten the band of muscles around the urethra that control urine flow, making it harder to urinate.
Things to watch out for
GP should be contacted for conducting several tests, like a urine test, to confirm enlarged prostate.