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Benign prostate enlargement: Symptoms & causes - that's what a man should know!

How do you recognize a benign prostate enlargement and how can you treat it? Read all the answers to the most important questions! By Martina Haering

What is Benign Enlarged Prostate?

In young men, the prostate is about the size of a chestnut or walnut. It encloses the top part of the urethra. The older a man gets, the more the number of prostate cells increases - and with it the volume of the prostate. So it gets bigger and bigger and narrows the urethra. One could also say that it gradually “constricts” her air. This usually happens around the age of five. Doctors refer to this as benign prostate enlargement or in technical jargon benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) . The enlarged prostate is not without consequences for many men. The symptoms caused by benign prostate enlargement are referred to by physicians as benign prostate syndrome (BPS).

How common is benign prostate enlargement?

Enlarged prostate is very rare in men under the age of 40. From the age of 40, however, the risk of benign prostate enlargement increases continuously, as shown by the following figures:

  • Between the ages of 50 and 59, around 20 percent have an enlarged prostate.
  • Up to 70 percent of men over the age of 70 suffer from benign prostatic hyperplasia.

Almost all men have something to do with their prostate as they get older. However, the number and severity of the symptoms do not necessarily depend on the size of the prostate. For example, some men with a very large prostate hardly experience any symptoms. Conversely, men with a relatively small prostate sometimes experience very severe discomfort.

Does prostate enlargement have anything to do with prostate cancer?

As the name suggests, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is a benign condition. The word "benigne" comes from Latin and means "good". So she has nothing with her prostate cancer to do and also does not increase that risk of prostate cancer .

Benign prostate enlargement – ​​the symptoms

Some men do not notice their prostate enlargement because it causes no or only non-specific symptoms. However, there are several signs that the prostate is enlarged. Typical symptoms are:

  • frequent and strong urge to urinate, many men also go to the toilet more often at night
  • Trouble starting to urinate
  • weak stream of urine, urination takes longer than usual
  • interrupted stream of urine
  • after urinating, urine trickles down
  • the feeling that the bladder is never completely empty
  • later possibly incontinence with uncontrolled loss of urine

If left untreated, benign prostate enlargement can lead to permanent damage to the bladder and kidneys. The complications can even become life-threatening. So always consult your doctor if you suffer from one or more of the mentioned symptoms.

What are the causes of prostate enlargement?

The causes of prostate enlargement are not exactly known. Doctors suspect that this slow enlargement of the prostate is part of the normal aging process. Therefore, age is also the most important risk factor, but not only! The following factors also appear to be involved:

  • Hormones: The prostate grows under the influence of sex hormones, testosterone and its breakdown product, dihydrotestosterone. Female estrogens are also suspected of contributing to the enlarged prostate.
  • hereditary factors (genes)
  • unhealthy diet, obesity
  • Smoking and alcohol consumption - the connection with an enlarged prostate is not sufficiently proven

Recognize benign prostate enlargement - that's what the doctor does!

After a certain age, many men have problems urinating. An enlargement of the prostate is not always behind it. The bladder or kidneys can also be to blame. If you have trouble urinating, always consult your family doctor or urologist. With the help of various examinations, he can determine whether a benign prostate enlargement is behind it.

First, the doctor will ask you about your medical history (anamnesis). The more information you can provide, the better the doctor can make an initial assessment. The following points are important:

  • What complaints do you have exactly?
  • How long have you been suffering from these symptoms?
  • How badly do your symptoms affect your everyday life?
  • Are you aware of any other illnesses?
  • Do you take any medicine? If yes, which?

Many doctors use standardized questionnaires to more accurately determine the extent of the symptoms and the impact on quality of life. The following investigations usually follow:

Sometimes further investigations follow, which provide more precise results. This includes:

  • Urine flow measurement (uroflowmetry): The doctor determines the flow of urine in milliliters per second, the duration of urination and the amount of urine emptied
  • Ultrasound examination of the prostate, usually through the rectum (transrectal ultrasound, TRUS for short)
  • Ultrasound examination of the urinary bladder and kidneys

Benign prostate enlargement - all treatments

Whether doctors treat prostate enlargement depends on how severe your condition is and how badly it affects your quality of life. In the case of mild symptoms, doctors can initially only observe the prostate enlargement. “Controlled waiting” is the name of this strategy. However, treatment is advisable if your symptoms are very severe and affect your well-being in everyday life. Treatments include medication and surgery. You can sometimes achieve an improvement in symptoms through your lifestyle.

Drugs for prostate enlargement

There are various medications that doctors use to treat benign prostate enlargement. Sometimes they combine several drugs together. They either slow down the growth of the prostate or relieve the symptoms.