BPH stands for benign prostatic hyperplasia, which is a non-cancerous condition of the prostate gland which leads to increase in prostate size secondary to increase in the number of cells in the prostate gland. The term BPH is often used interchangeably with the term prostate enlargement, since BPH is the most common cause of prostate enlargement. To formally make the diagnosis of BPH, a biopsy to remove tissue would be needed. However, a biopsy is only recommended if there is a concern for prostate cancer based on examination, blood testing or other risk factors. With BPH, as the prostate gets larger, it may obstruct or block the flow of urine and result in a variety of signs or symptoms of BPH.

The common signs and symptoms of BPH include:

  • Weak or slow urinary stream
  • Straining or pushing to urinate
  • Hesitancy (a delay when urine flow starts from attempting to urinate)
  • Intermittency (urine flow may stop and restart)
  • Increased urinary frequency (urinating more often)
  • Increased urinary urgency (suddenly or abruptly needing to urinate)
  • Sensation of incomplete bladder emptying (feeling like you are leaving urine behind)
  • Waking up in the middle of the night to urinate
  • Urinary incontinence, which is leaking urine when you don’t want to. With prostate enlargement this commonly comes in the form of dribbling after urination, however, it sometimes occurs on the way to the restroom with the abrupt sensation of needing to urinate.

It tends to be that the larger the prostate gland, the more likely it is to have these symptoms or severity of these symptoms. However, some might have prostate enlargement and have no symptoms or very minimal symptoms. Alternatively, a patient might have a small prostate gland and the above urinary symptoms, which then could be related to secondary causes and not an enlarged prostate gland. Obstruction of urine flow, specifically the symptoms of inability to get the urine out of the bladder, may also predispose to other problems such as stones in the bladder or urinary bladder infections.

Reviewing your symptoms and examination with your doctor or urologist is the best way to determine if you have BPH and if additional tests/treatments need to be pursued. No two patients are the same and it is important to find a treatment plan best for you.


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