Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)
The prostate gland is a male reproductive organ that is about the size of a walnut, found at the base of the bladder. The urethra is a thin tube that allows the passage of urine out of the penis. It runs through the prostate gland. Fluid produced by this gland helps to protect and feed sperm, which come from the seminal vesicles via the ejaculatory ducts into the urethra.
The prostate undergoes two main growth spurts. The first is fuelled by sex hormones made by the testicles during puberty. This prompts the gland to reach an average weight of 20 grams in adulthood. For reasons that are unclear, the second growth spurt begins when men are in their 30s. The prostate continues to enlarge with age to an average weight of 40 grams in men in their 70s. Many men experience urinary changes as they age, which may be caused by inflammation or enlargement of the prostate gland. An enlarged prostate gland, however, does not always cause urinary problems. Troublesome urinary symptoms are rarely symptoms of prostate cancer.
Many men experience urinary symptoms as they age. In the older male, symptoms may be the result of a blockage in the tubes due to a benign (non-cancerous) enlargement of the prostate gland (benign prostatic hyperplasia – BPH). The most common symptom is difficulty emptying your bladder.Urinary symptoms may become noticeable enough that they require treatment. Not all urinary symptoms are due to changes to the prostate. Also, some men have enlarged prostates and yet experience few, if any, symptoms.
Symptoms of urinary problems
Urinary symptoms commonly experienced with prostate problems include:
- the need to urinate frequently during the night
- urinating more often during the day
- urinary urgency – the urge to urinate can be so strong and sudden that you may not reach the toilet in time
- the urine stream is slow to start
- urine dribbling for some time after finishing urination
- a sensation that the bladder isn't fully emptied after urination
- lack of force to the urine flow, which makes directing the stream difficult
- the sensation of needing to go again soon after urinating.
Although these symptoms often do not need treatment, you should see your doctor if they are causing you particular difficulty, as they can be successfully treated.
Problems with enlarged prostate gland
BPH causes enlargement of the prostate, which may cause troublesome symptoms. BPH is more common as men get older.
The urethra passes through the prostate gland, so men may have problems urinating if the enlarged gland restricts the flow of urine. If the flow stops completely, a catheter is required to empty the bladder. It is rare for this form of acute urinary retention to cause kidney damage.
An enlarged prostate doesn't always cause urinary problems. Studies indicate that the size of a man's prostate gland has little influence on the type or severity of his urination problems. BPH is just one possible cause of urinary symptoms.
Another cause of urinary symptoms can be changes to the muscular wall of the bladder, which may cause spasms of the bladder or weaken the bladder, causing problems passing urine.