What is benign prostatic hyperplasia?
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is also called benign prostatic hypertrophy. It’s when the prostate gland becomes very large and may cause problems passing urine. BPH is not cancer, and is a common part of aging.
The prostate gland is found only in males. It’s located in front of the rectum and below the bladder. It wraps around the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of the body. The prostate’s job is to make some of the fluid that protects and nourishes sperm cells in semen. This makes the semen more liquid.
BPH can raise PSA (prostate-specific antigen) levels. PSA is made by the prostate and can be measured with a blood test. An increased PSA level does not mean you have cancer, but the higher the PSA level, the higher the chance of having cancer.
Some of the symptoms of BPH and prostate cancer are the same, but BPH is not cancer and does not develop into prostate cancer.
What causes BPH?
The cause of BPH is not known. The prostate goes through 2 main periods of growth. In early puberty, it doubles in size. Then, around age 25, the prostate starts to grow again and continues to grow throughout most of a man’s life.
The continuing growth of the prostate may not cause problems until much later in life, when the second period of growth may result in BPH. It is a common problem for men starting in their 60s, and it is more likely for men in their 70s and 80s to have some symptoms of BPH.
What are the symptoms of BPH?
As the prostate grows, it presses against the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of the body. This interferes with urination. At the same time, the bladder wall becomes thicker and irritated, and begins to contract, even when it contains only small amounts of urine. This can cause more frequent urination. These changes cause the bladder muscle to weaken. It may not empty fully and leave some urine behind. This leads to symptoms.