If you’ve been having urinary difficulties, they could be caused by an enlarged prostate.
- Frequent, urgent urination
- Problems starting or maintaining the urine stream
- Slow or weak stream
- Frequent nighttime visits to the bathroom
- Dribbling of urine after completion
- Sensation of incomplete emptying of the bladder
As men grow older, an enlarged prostate can create urinary difficulties. This condition, called Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia, or BPH, can affect up to half of men over 50. Initially the size of a walnut, the prostate gland grows over time and can obstruct urinary flow. BPH is NOT cancer, but it can have an aggravating or bothersome effect on daily living.
There is no absolute criteria for when treatment is needed. Most often, men who have minimal symptoms will be advised to simply watch and wait to see if things worsen over time. For those who have a significant amount of bother from their BPH symptoms, initial therapy usually involves medication. In severe cases, a man cannot urinate at all, and a catheter has to be placed through the penis into the bladder to drain it.
Management of BPH hopes to avoid getting to this dire extreme. Treatments for BPH vary from watchful waiting for mild symptoms, to medications or surgery for more severe situations. Your physician may assess the severity of your symptoms by having you fill out a questionnaire, made of questions related to urination patterns. In some cases, BPH can outgrow what medications can control. For patients who have worsening urinary difficulties or for those who cannot urinate at all, surgery is usually required for a more aggressive management.