The prostate is a small gland about the size and shape of a walnut. It
lies just below the bladder and in front of the rectum. It is part of
the male reproductive tract that produces fluid that combines with sperm
to make semen.
At birth, the prostate gland is tiny. When testosterone levels rise
during puberty, the prostate grows rapidly and doubling in size to reach
20 years. Growth slowed during the past two decades, and usually causes
no problems for many years. Less than 10% of men age 30 have an enlarged prostate problem.
When a man reaches 40, the prostate goes through a second outbreak of
growth. Half of all men experience prostate enlargement upon reaching
age 60, and 85 years, 90% of them suffer from this problem.
This gland surrounds the tube that carries urine from the bladder
(urethra). During puberty, the prostate expands evenly. However, the
enlargement of prostate during the second stage of life occurs in the
portion of the gland near the urethra. As the gland enlarges, it
interferes with the flow of urine leaves the bladder. This makes the
bladder work harder to pass urine. Over time the problems are
exacerbated and finally, the bladder can not empty completely. The
bladder wall may become thicker and cause muscle spasms.
An enlarged prostate can cause urination problems. Not all men with this
disease have no symptoms. However, about a quarter of men in the United
States reported some difficulty with urination.
At first, symptoms may be mild because the bladder muscle is able to
accommodate to offset the pressure of an enlarged prostate on the
The pressure of the prostate into the urethra causes an interrupted flow of urine or weak. Other symptoms include:
* Difficulty starting to urinate
* Dribbling after urination
* Feeling that the bladder has not emptied completely
The severity of these problems depends on how prostate exerting pressure on the urethra.
Another set of symptoms occurs when urine that collects in the bladder causes irritation. These symptoms include:
* Painful urination
* Frequent need to empty the bladder, especially at night
* Sense of urgency accompanied by the sensation to urinate
* Loss of bladder control (incontinence)
Potentially dangerous complications can occur if the bladder does not
empty completely. Urine leaves the bladder not can cause the growth of
bacteria that can cause frequent urinary tract infections.
The symptoms of enlarged prostate does not always relate directly to the
size of the gland. Many men with enlarged prostate have no symptoms. In
others, the symptoms are mild and worsen so slowly that they never
develop serious problems. About a third of men with BPH have symptoms
that worsen and require treatment.
While you can not avoid the prostate enlarges, it can take steps to reduce your symptoms:
* Limit fluid intake in the evening, especially drinks with alcohol
and caffeine. This reduction helps to minimize the number of times you
have to urinate at night. (Also, drinking too much alcohol can irritate
the bladder or prostate. Most experts recommend that men avoid taking
more than two drinks per day).
* Ask your doctor whether you can change or remove drugs that may be
worsening the problem. These may include antihistamines, diuretics,
decongestants, antispasmodics, tranquilizers and some types of
antidepressants. These medications can weaken the bladder muscle or
reduce the opening of the prostate.
* Take every opportunity to use the bathroom and take as much time as you need to empty the bladder completely.
When to seek enlarged prostate treatment
and what to do are personal decisions that should be taken with the
help of your doctor. The main reason to start treatment is to feel
bothered by symptoms or changes in urination habits are affecting their
lifestyle. It is rare that men have no symptoms or very mild, require
some type of treatment.