BPH or benign prostatic hyperplasia is a common medical condition of the prostate. The condition is more common in men of older age, particularly over 65, although it often appears in men over fifty. 

BPH leads to the enlargement of the portate gland, an important organ of the male reproductive system. Anatomically, the prostate is located right below the bladder. Due to this, BPH often leads to bladder issues. 

Most common symptoms of prostate enlargement

  • Difficulty to start or stop urinating
  • A weak or slow flow of urine
  • Feeling like you can’t fully empty your bladder
  • An unusually frequent or sudden need to pee
  • Straining when urinating
  • The need to wake up and pee during the night
  • The need to pee again minutes after finishing
  • Prolonged dribbling after you finish urinating

Medical exam and diagnosis of prostate enlargement

The first step to take when these symptoms appear is to talk to your GP. While BPH is not life-threatening, the same symptoms are usually associated with prostatic cancer. An exam will help rule out this option and determine the severity of the condition.

The first step in determining which condition is affecting the prostate is a digital rectal examination that helps determine if the prostate is enlarged. 

This is often followed by a blood test meant to measure PSA levels. PSA stands for prostate-specific antigen, an enzyme produced for the ejaculate that is usually present in small quantities in the blood. When these levels are too high they can indicate a prostate disorder. 

Because the PSA screening tests are not always accurate and have a risk of false-positives, sometimes a biopsy is also performed. Because biopsies are invasive and often painful, lately an MRI scan is performed before moving on to the biopsy.

Treatment of enlarged prostate

There are several treatment options for an enlarged prostate, depending on the severity of the condition:

Lifestyle changes: When symptoms are mild and not life-impairing, some changes in lifestyle can help alleviate them. These changes can include more exercise, a different diet, and paying attention to your alcohol or caffeine consumption.

Medical treatment: Another option is appealing to medicine. Some medicine like alpha-blockers helps relax the prostate and bladder muscles, making it easier to urinate.

Surgery: In more advanced conditions, minimally invasive surgery may be the best option. There are different types of surgery such as the transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) or prostatic urethral lift implants. Over a certain size, an open prostatectomy may be performer, consisting of the removal of the prostate gland. 

Catheter: In case of chronic urine retention, a urinary catheter is an option. A catheter is a tube that helps drain the bladder.

A medical exam will determine what is the best course of action. If you notice any of the symptoms associated with BPH, consult your GP.