In contrast to prostate cancer, an enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia, BPH) is a benign disease of the prostate. It is one of the most common male diseases. From the age of around 50 years old, virtually every second man is more or less affected by it. Typical symptoms of prostate enlargement are symptoms when urinating. Benign prostate enlargement is usually treated with medication. If there is an accumulation of urine in the bladder, surgical removal of the prostate may be necessary.
The prostate (prostate gland) is located below the bladder and surrounds the urethra. The gland produces a secretion that is expelled together with sperm during ejaculation. As men grow older, their prostate often becomes enlarged. Hereditary predisposition, the male sex hormone and age in particular part in the occurrence of this enlargement. Thus, around 40% of men are affected by prostate enlargement by the age of 50 years; at the age of 80 years old, the figure even rises to more than 90%.
The symptoms vary, depending on how extensive the prostate enlargement is and the extent to which it prevents the urine from flowing out through the urethra. Many men who are affected by prostate enlargement complain of a weakened urine stream, an increased urge to urinate, nocturnal enuresis and dribbling of urine after emptying their bladder. In medical terms, these symptoms are summarised under the term “lower urinary tract syndrome (LUTS). In rare cases, this can result in complete urinary stasis, which requires surgery. An enlarged prostate can also be the reason for blood in the urine. Blood in the urine should always be checked by a doctor, as cancer can also be behind it. The impaired urine flow caused by prostate enlargement also facilitates the occurrence of urinary tract infections bladder infections.
Benign prostate enlargement is diagnosed on the basis of the symptoms, the patient's medical history and with the help of examinations. The enlarged prostate can be palpated via the rectum. The exact size of the prostate can be determined with an ultrasound examination. Blood tests and urine tests provide further information on prostate enlargement. A prostate biopsy can be carried out if the patient has suspected prostate cancer.
The treatment depends on the severity of the symptoms and the extent of the impact. If there are only limited symptoms, no treatment is often necessary. If the symptoms are too uncomfortable or the psychological stress is bigger, the symptoms can be alleviated with medication and the growth of the prostate decreased. Plant-based medication as well as medication which blocks the effect of the sexual hormone on the prostate are available for medical treatment.
If urination is severely impacted, there is complete urine retention or repeated bladder infections, surgery may be necessary. You can find out more about the surgical treatment options in the prostate surgery section.