What is Benign Prostate Enlargement?
The prostate is a small gland in the male reproductive
system that is wrapped around the urethra, the
tube that carries urine out of the body. The prostate
makes part of the semen that carries sperm. During
sex, muscles squeeze the prostate's fluid into
the urethra. This fluid helps keep sperm active
and alive in the vagina.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH, is the
medical term for what happens when a man's prostate
gland grows larger and makes it difficult for
him to urinate. BPH - a non-cancerous condition
- is a normal part of growing older.
As the prostate grows, the capsule that surrounds
it prevents the gland from expanding outward.
As a result, the prostate presses against the
urethra like a clamp on a garden hose and causes
difficulty in urinating. The bladder wall thickens
and becomes irritated. It may begin to contract
when it holds even a small amount of urine, causing
more frequent urination. As this strain continues,
the bladder may eventually become unable to empty
We still do not fully understand why BPH occurs.
However, BPH does not seem to have to do with
how sexually active a man is. Celibate priests
experience BPH as often as all other men. Nothing
seems to link BPH to impotence, prostate infections
or sexually transmitted diseases.
Some men will begin to show some symptoms of
BPH in their late 40s. About one-third of men
develop BPH in their 50s. More than half of all
men have it by the time they are in their 60s,
and by age 85, nine out of 10 men develop BPH.
In the U.S. alone, up to 300,000 men undergo surgery
for BPH each year.
While you can't prevent BPH, but you can have
it and be among the over 50% of men who never
experience any symptoms. If you're having problems
with urination, talk with your doctor.
For more information, learn about testing
and treatment options.