You’ve woken up in the night to make a trip to the bathroom for the fifth time. It’s 20 minutes into a meeting and you find yourself needing to desperately make another restroom visit. And when you are at the toilet, it feels like your bladder does not fully empty.
If this describes you or someone you know, you or they are most likely experiencing the effects of prostate gland enlargement. This naturally occurring phenomenon in men 50 years of age and older commonly disrupts urinary flow and frequency.
The prostate gland is a walnut-sized organ located just below the bladder and its main function is to produce fluid which protects and enriches sperm. The urethra the tube which semen and urine pass through and exit the male penis extends from the bladder to the penis and goes through the prostate gland.
As adult men age, the prostate gland gradually enlarges and may interfere with the flow of fluid in the urethra. As a result, men ages 50 and over may experience various difficulties with urination, a condition known benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
What Is BPH Exactly?
Also known as enlarged prostate, benign prostatic hyperplasia is the partial or complete obstruction of the urethra, causing men to have a weak or slow urinary stream, frequent urinations, and incomplete emptying of the bladder.
These symptoms, if severe enough, may lead to more serious health conditions. However, as it is benign, the condition does not lead to cancer, and prostate cancer is an independent and separate medical issue.
BPH is rare in men younger than 40 and only affects 20% of men ages 50-59. However, up to 70% of men 70 and older experience BPH, and 90% of those 90 years of age and older. BPH is a condition which only occurs in men.
What Are The Symptoms Of BPH?
As enlarged prostate directly affects urination, here is a list of possible symptoms:
- Weak or slow urinary stream that takes longer to finish
- Hesitation in beginning to urinate
- Stopping and starting while urinating
- Frequent and urgent needs to urinate
- A feeling of incomplete bladder emptying
- Continued dribbling of urine
- Getting up frequently in the night to urinate, leading to sleep difficulties
- Straining while urinating
- Urinary tract infection
- Formation of stones in the bladder
- Reduced kidney function
According to experts, even if the symptoms are not severe, it is important to have your symptoms checked by a doctor to ensure other problems don’t exist, like prostate cancer. If you can’t pass urine at all (acute urinary retention), seek medical attention immediately.