What is Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia?
Also known as BPH, benign prostatic hyperplasia is a condition in men in which the prostate gland is enlarged, however not cancerous. Benign prostatic hyperplasia is also called benign prostatic hypertrophy or benign prostatic obstruction.
The prostate is a walnut-shaped gland that is part of the male reproductive system. It surrounds the urethra at the neck of the bladder and its main function is to make a fluid that goes into semen. Prostate fluid is essential for a man’s fertility.
The prostate goes through two main growth periods in a man’s life – once during puberty when the prostate doubles in size, and again around age 25 when it continues to grow throughout most of a man’s life.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia often occurs within the second growth phase of the prostate.
What causes benign prostatic hyperplasia?
The cause of benign prostatic hyperplasia is not well understood, however because it tends to occur mainly in older men, researchers do have a couple of theories. Some believe that factors relating to increasing levels of estrogen and diminishing levels of testosterone within the prostate may be responsible for promoting prostate cell growth. Another theory focuses on a male hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which plays a part in prostate development and growth. Older men continue to produce and accumulate high levels of DHT in the prostate, which may encourage prostate cells to continue to grow, noting that men who do not produce DHT do not develop benign prostatic hyperplasia.
How common is benign prostatic hyperplasia?
Benign prostatic hyperplasia is the most common prostate problem for men older than age 50. BPH affects about 50 percent of men between the ages of 51 and 60, and up to 90 percent of men older than 80.1
What are the signs of benign prostate hyperplasia?
Lower urinary tract symptoms suggestive of BPH may include:
- urinary frequency—urination eight or more times a day
- urinary urgency—the inability to delay urination
- trouble starting a urine stream and/or increase straining required to empty bladder
- a weak or an interrupted urine stream
- dribbling at the end of urination
- incomplete bladder emptying
- nocturia—frequent urination during periods of sleep
- urinary retention
- urinary incontinence—the accidental loss of urine
- pain after ejaculation or during urination
- urine that has an unusual color or smell
Symptoms of BPH most often come from
- a blocked urethra
- a bladder that is overworked from trying to pass urine through the blockage
The size of the prostate does not always determine the severity of the blockage or symptoms. Less than half of all men with BPH have lower urinary tract symptoms.2
Sometimes men may not know they have a blockage until they cannot urinate. This is a condition called acute urinary retention and it can result from taking over-the-counter cold or allergy medications that contain decongestants, such as pseudoephedrine and oxymetazoline. A potential side-effect of these medications may prevent the bladder from relaxing and releasing urine.
When men have partial urethra blockage, urinary retention can also occur as a result of alcohol consumption, cold temperatures, or a long period of inactivity.
How is benign prostatic hyperplasia treated?
Treatment options for benign prostatic hyperplasia may include:
- lifestyle changes
- minimally invasive procedures
BPH is treated based on the severity of symptoms, how much the symptoms affect a man’s daily life, and a man’s preferences.
TULSA Prostate Treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia
When medications prove ineffective, RadNet’s Tulsa Prostate Treatment is a minimally invasive procedure that relieves symptoms of BPH.
Combining real-time Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) with robotically-driven directional thermal ultrasound and closed-loop temperature feedback control software, enlarged prostate tissue is ablated, opening up the urethra. Because the treatment is MRI-guided, it is so specific that surrounding tissues in the urethra and bladder remain protected.
1 BPH: surgical management. Urology Care Foundation website. www.urologyhealth.org
2 BPH: surgical management. Urology Care Foundation website. www.urologyhealth.org