What is Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)?

February 19,2020 |

The prostate is part of the male reproductive system that sits below the bladder and in front of the rectum.3 It works to create fluid for semen, which is then mixed with sperm before ejaculation occurs.3 As men age, the prostate tends to continue to grow in men, which can cause issues such as benign prostatic hyperplasia and other urological problems. In this article, we’ll answer the question, “what is benign prostatic hyperplasia?” and identify the causes, symptoms, and treatment options.  

Before learning about the symptoms, it’s important to clarify what benign prostatic hyperplasia is. Simply put, it’s an enlarged prostate. This leads to uncomfortable symptoms, urinary problems, and sometimes even kidney problems. Luckily, there are a number of effective treatment options for men suffering from BPH.


Symptoms of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia

If you’re suffering from benign prostatic hyperplasia, you’ll likely experience one or more symptoms. This is the main reason that men find out they have BPH, however the symptoms can be mistaken for other urinary system issues. The most prominent symptom is the need to urinate more frequently than usual. Most men with BPH report needing to urinate at least every 1 to 2 hours; more often during the night.3 This is obviously disruptive to a healthy sleep schedule and can cause frustration when trying to manage a healthy lifestyle. A few other common symptoms of BPH include the following:3

  • Feeling like the bladder is full, even after urinating
  • Feeling that you can’t wait to urinate until you get to the bathroom
  • Weak or disrupted urine flow
  • Difficulty starting to urinate
  • Feeling like you have to push or strain excessively to urinate
  • The inability to urinate at all—in severe cases
  • Blood in the urine—in severe cases

When these symptoms go undiagnosed, BPH can lead to serious complications and medical emergencies. To ensure that you’re not putting yourself in danger of infection, it’s important to see a doctor and get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan as soon as possible.


Causes of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia 

The problem with BPH is that it’s a little unclear as to why it occurs. At the very core of things, BPH happens when the prostate gets too big and blocks the flow of urine.2 Prostate growth continues in most men throughout their life, but some have more growth than others. Some doctors believe that the growth is due to the changes in hormones as men get older.2 To better understand your chances of developing BPH, it’s important to look at your risk factors.

Risk Factors for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia

The most prominent risk factor for BPH is age. BPH is extremely rare in men under the age of 40, which is why doctors believe that age-related hormones play a role in the cause of BPH.2 In fact, by the age of 80, half of men experience one or more moderate to severe symptoms of BPH.2

If you have a family history of prostate related problems, you’ll be more likely to develop BPH.2 Additionally, those living from diabetes or heart disease, and using beta blockers, have an increased risk of developing BPH.2 Finally, men who are obese suffer more often from BPH than those who are a healthy weight and exercise regularly.2


Is BPH Preventable?

During regular prostate exams, many men ask about preventative action to reduce the chances of developing BPH. The problem is that since there is no definitive answer on what causes BPH, it’s very difficult to prevent. The best ways to reduce your chance of developing BPH include healthy lifestyle behaviors like eating nutritious foods, maintaining a healthy BMI, and exercising regularly.

Complications of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia

When left untreated, there are a number of complications that benign prostatic hyperplasia can contribute to. Some of these complications include urinary retention, UTIs, bladder stones, bladder damage, and even kidney damage.2

  • Urinary Retention

    Urinary retention can occur when there is a blockage that puts strain on the ureters or urethra. When you experience urinary retention, you’ll experience difficulty emptying your bladder or even the inability to urinate altogether. BPH increases your chances of urinary retention, but it can be relieved with surgery or catheter use.2 


  • Urinary Tract Infections

    When you fail to regularly empty your bladder, your body will be at an increased risk of urinary tract infections. If you’re experiencing UTIs regularly, your doctor will likely recommend surgery to avoid complications of chronic UTIs.


  • Bladder or Kidney Stones

    Similarly, bladder or kidney stones accumulate when you fail to empty your bladder completely. These can be painful, lead to infection and irritation, and may result in bloody urine.2


  • Bladder and Kidney Damage

Finally, over time, BPH can result in bladder damage from the above complications. The muscular wall is weakened and leads to further complications. When pressure from urinary retention starts to build up, it can directly damage the kidneys and create more serious problems.2

To make sure that you don’t experience any complications, it’s important to get a proper diagnosis from a medical professional.


How is Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia Diagnosed?

If you think you might have BPH, schedule an appointment with your urologist as soon as possible. The only way to properly diagnose BPH is through a series of questions asked by your doctor and tests. A medical diagnosis is very important to ensure that your symptoms are managed and further complications are reduced. If you notice severe symptoms, such as blood in your urine or an inability to urinate, see your doctor immediately.

Once you arrive at your appointment, your urologist will schedule a number of tests and question you about you family history. The BPH Symptoms Score Index, built by the American Urological Association (AUA) is used to determine the severity of your benign prostatic hyperplasia.1 In addition to the questionnaire, you will need to have a physical and a digital rectal exam (DRE).1 For this test, you will be either bent over or curled on your side. From here, your urologist will insert a lubricated, gloved finger to feel the shape and thickness of the prostate and identify any problems.1

Depending on the results from your DRE, your urologist may order a number of other tests. Some of them include the following:1

  • Cytoscopy
  • Post-Void Residual Volume
  • PSA Blood Test
  • Ultrasound
  • Urinalysis
  • Uroflowmetry
  • Urodynamic Pressure
  • Urinary Blood Test

Based on the results from your BPH Symptoms Score Index, DRE, and any other tests that were ordered by your doctor, a proper diagnosis will be made.


How to Treat Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia

If you’ve been diagnosed with BPH, your doctor will discuss options for treatment plans. The first treatment course is to make necessary lifestyle changes. You should reduce the amount of liquids you drink at night to avoid disrupting your sleeping schedule and try to limit certain medications, caffeine, or stimulants. You can benefit from practicing pelvic floor exercises and working to train the bladder. In addition to lifestyle changes, your doctor will likely prescribe a few medications to help ease your symptoms and reduce the growth rate of your prostate.

If all else fails, there are minimally invasive procedures available to help relieve BPH symptoms.4 If you’re looking for a more long-term solution and medications or the minimally invasive procedures haven’t worked, talk to your doctor about undergoing surgery to reduce or remove the enlarged prostate. There are a number of different surgical options, so talk to your doctor to learn about what’s best for you. If you have any questions about treatment plans and options, don’t hesitate to call your urologist and schedule an appointment. As with any treatment plans, there are a few complications that can occur. Stay informed, maintain a healthy diet, get enough exercise, and try to avoid drinking too many liquids when you know you won’t be able to reach a bathroom.


If you think you’re experiencing any of the symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia, or have other symptoms that raise concern, call your doctor immediately. BPH requires a proper diagnosis to ensure that the correct treatment is being administered. Discomfort is your body’s way of saying something is wrong, so don’t put yourself through unnecessary strain out of fear of diagnosing BPH. If you need any urological supplies or additional educational resources, visit our educational support page or our product selection guide. Byram Healthcare is proud to offer full-service urological care and we have all the high quality urological supplies that you need. If you need to order any urological supplies, all of your orders can be discreetly delivered to your home, at any time of the day. If you have any urological questions or need personalized, confidential services, our team of knowledgeable urological customer service specialists are here to help.