October 01, 2020

Enlarged prostate

A treatable condition in men

Enlarged prostate — Feature that helps sort out drug and surgical options for improving BPH symptoms.

Enlarged prostate

Getting a good night's sleep has been a problem in recent months. It's not that you aren't tired, it's the repeated waking at night to urinate. And the frequent need to urinate doesn't stop in the daytime. In addition, it seems like you need to strain just to produce a weak urine stream.

Those circumstances are common in older men, and the most likely cause is an enlarged prostate gland — a condition known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).

Growth over time

The prostate gland produces most of the fluid that nourishes and transports sperm. The prostate is located just below the bladder and surrounds the tube through which urine passes out of the body (urethra). After puberty, the prostate is about the size of a walnut. As men age, the gland gradually increases in size, though BPH symptoms generally don't occur until later in life.

Causes of this noncancerous (benign) prostate growth — which typically occurs in the gland's central area — are uncertain. Some believe it may be related to changes in the balance of sex hormones associated with aging. About 8% of men in their 30s have BPH. That rises to 80% in men over 80. Your risk of an enlarged prostate may be greater if your father or brother had prostate problems, as men with a family history are more likely to start with a larger prostate and have symptoms at a younger age.

As the prostate gland's central area enlarges, it can press in...