You or your loved one might have recently been diagnosed with (BPH) Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia, and it goes without saying you have endless questions. Well, this article aims to answer most if not all of these questions by educating you more on the condition. So what exactly is benign prostatic hyperplasia in layman’s language?

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Well, it simply refers to a state where the prostate grows larger than its normal size but poses no cancerous threat hence the term benign’. The prostate is an organ found in the male reproductive system, right below the bladder and whose size is likened to that of a walnut. It helps transport sperms from the testicles when a man ejaculates by excreting a milky fluid that consists of semen. Its smooth muscles also help in semen discharge.

Now, in a man’s early teenage years his prostate actually doubles in size and in his mid-twenties it goes through yet another enlargement phase. In most men, this continues for the rest of their life while causing BPH in some of them. In fact, statistics have shown that nearly half of men aged 50 and above are affected and with more than 90% of those over 80 diagnosed.

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Causes Of BPH?

Unfortunately, science is yet to figure this one out but some doctors seem to think it is as a result of hormonal changes as one age. Although there appears to be no clear explanation, there are certain risk factors which include:

  • It being a common case in your family history
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Diabetes mellitus/diabetes type 2
  • Obesity
  • Lack of exercise
  • Your dietary habits
  • Use of certain medications such as anticholinergics, pseudoephedrine et cetera

These risk factors were found to be each true in their own capacity as a result of certain studies performed by various and diverse medical professionals. However, a definite conclusive cause is yet to be reached and hence more studies need to be done.

What Are The Symptoms?

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Earlier on we mentioned that the prostate is found below your bladder and this position, therefore, has it surrounding part of the urethra’s length. The prostate’s location is relevant in that it results in most of the symptoms experienced from prostate enlargement. The urethra is the tube connecting the bladder to the urinary meatus and is used as a passage for both semen and urine in men.

Once your prostate starts to enlarge there is not enough room for both it and the urethra resulting in the latter being squeezed.

This, in turn, strains the performance of the urethra which affects your urine flow which is proved by having a hard a time starting, dripping when you finish, peeing in pauses/hesitancy and a weak stream. BPH does not only affect your urethra but also the bladder as it has to overwork in order to dispose of the urine it stores. Gradually the urinary bladder muscles will loosen and weaken making it harder to store urine thus:

  • You are unable to hold it medically known as urine incontinence
  • You go too often, 8 or more times a day
  • List Nocturia, waking up too many times to urinate
  • Abdominal pains
  • Dysuria which is pain as you urinate
  • A feeling you have to pee right after you did
  • An urgency to pee out of nowhere
  • BPH should not be left untreated as it is a progressive or rather continuing disease and could result in more serious problems such as urinary tract infections commonly known as UTIs.

How Do I Know If I Have It?

The symptoms mentioned above may appear distinct to BPH but can, in fact, be caused by many other diseases and conditions such as a dysfunction bladder caused by problems in the central nervous system (CNS), UTIs, prostate cancer, bladder cancer among others.

As expected a doctor will first ask about past medical history and ask you to state your symptoms. He/she will then do a physical that may involve a rectal examination. An enlarged prostate size wise and asymmetrical one shape wise corroborate its BPI. Be as it may, to be through your doctor will carry out other tests which may include:

Primary Tests

  • Blood tests to rule out kidney failure
  • Urine tests to check for any UTIs
  • A prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test. If high this can be either a sign of an abnormally large prostate or prostate cancer.

Conclusive Tests

  • A urine flow test to measure the strength and amount of your pee stream and discharge respectively
  • Various ultrasounds such as the transrectal ultrasonography to dismiss cancer and the dilation and swelling of the renal pelvis.
  • Your doctor could also do a biopsy to discount cancer

Is BPI Treatable And Manageable?

Yes, it is, and if your doctor has come to the conclusion that it is indeed BPI after running several of these tests he/she will put you on the right treatment. The treatment will depend on your health for starters. And also your age, the size of your prostate, the symptoms you are experiencing.

BPI can be controlled or treated with:

Making certain changes to your lifestyle

Such as exercising regularly especially exercises that strengthen your pelvic muscles; lowering fluid intake before heading out or to bed; moderate alcohol and caffeine consumption; urinating in a sitting position, and avoiding the use of products and medications that may enhance urinary retention problems.


Alpha blockers

These drugs relax the smooth muscles of the prostate and bladder neck hence enhancing urine flow in the urethra. They include silodosin, terazosin, doxazosin, alfuzosin et cetera. The most reported side effects are a nasal blockage, headaches, dizzy spells, erectile dysfunction and ejaculation changes.

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-Reductase Inhibitors

Finasteride and dutasteride are medications that will inhibit the -Reductase enzyme which will prevent the production of the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT) which causes enlargement of the prostate. They, however, lead to a reduction in libido and ejaculation. Pregnant women should not come into contact with the broken drug as it may interfere with the fetal testosterone metabolism.

In some patients, the doctor may advise a combination of both of the inhibitors and blockers. Click here to learn more about this issue.

Surgical Procedures

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These may involve water-induced thermotherapy that uses heated water to destroy part of your prostate as well as laser therapy which also removes only part of your prostate

Another popular procedure is Transurethral Resection which requires a wire loop to cut pieces of the prostate.

In extreme cases, the doctor may suggest removal of the entire prostate through open surgery. There are also other newer means of treatment such as herbal remedies and arterial embolization that uses radiology.

I hope you are more informed on (BPH) Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia than you were when you first started reading this and do remember having BPI does not increase your chances of getting cancer it is but a common misconception.