Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia

Share this page:
Also known as: BPH; Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy

What is benign prostatic hyperplasia?

Thumbnail diagram of enlarged prostateBenign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), also known as benign prostatic hypertrophy, is a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate, a small gland that encircles the urethra in males and produces a fluid that makes up part of semen. As the volume of the prostate increases, it can put pressure on the urethra, causing a slowdown in the urine stream, hesitancy in urinating, a frequent and urgent need to urinate, and sometimes dribbling of urine at the end of the flow. It can also cause urine retention, which can weaken the bladder muscle and increase the risk of developing a urinary tract infection (UTI) or kidney stones. In severe cases of BPH, urine may back up into and damage the kidneys. Rarely, BPH may prevent a man from urinating at all, a situation that requires immediate medical attention. BPH can also affect sexual functioning, leading to reduced sexual ability, painful orgasm, and impotence.

The type and severity of symptoms experienced will vary from man to man and may vary over time. For many men, BPH never progresses beyond a minor to moderate annoyance; for others, it may represent a significant challenge to their quality of life. BPH becomes a very common condition in men as they age. According to the National Association for Continence, about 50% of men will have some degree of BPH by the time they are 60 years old, and up to 90% will be affected by age 85. While BPH does not cause prostate cancer, both may be found together.

Next »