Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), Enlarged Prostate: Signs, Symptoms and Risk Factors

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BPH symptomsBenign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) symptoms and risk factors are common among older men, but you may be asking yourself what is BPH?

You probably know BPH by its more common name: prostate gland enlargement. Enlarged prostate symptoms can be annoying at the best of times, but can also lead to more serious problems with the urinary tract or kidneys if left untreated.

What is BPH?

Benign prostatic hyperplasia is a condition that occurs in men with age. It is very common, with roughly half of all men in their fifties suffering from the condition, as well as about 90% of men over the age of 80. As men grow older, their prostates also continue to grow. From the age of 25, a man’s prostate usually continues to grow in size.

An enlarged prostate can press down and squeeze the urethra and bladder. This will cause the bladder to weaken—meaning a man may no longer be able to completely empty his bladder when he urinates. Not only does this make it more difficult for a man to urinate, but there are a variety of other symptoms that can occur.

BPH is benign, meaning that it is not a form of cancer. However, BPH can occur in combination with prostate cancer or other conditions.

Signs and Symptoms of BPH (Enlarged Prostate)

Now that you know what BPH disease is, it is important to understand what the common symptoms of BPH are. There are many possible symptoms that can occur with BPH.

1. Difficulty urinating or emptying the bladder: One of the most common symptoms of BPH is difficulty urinating. As the prostate enlarges and presses against the urethra, it blocks the urinary tract and makes it more difficult to urinate. You may have to strain to urinate. As well, you may have trouble completely emptying your bladder.

2. Weak urination: Another common symptom of BPH is weak urination. For instance, you may have the urge to urinate, but nothing comes out when you try to go. It is also possible to have a weak urine stream, urine that dribbles out, or a urine stream that stops and starts. All of this can be due to an enlarged prostate that block the urinary tract and puts pressure on the bladder.

3. Frequent urination: As a prostate enlarges, it can squeeze the bladder and lead to frequent urges to urinate. As well, with BPH, the nerves in your bladder may not function properly, leading to frequent urination. If you find yourself constantly having to go to the washroom or waking up in the night with the urge to urinate, that could be due to BPH.

4. Urinary retention: A less common but much more serious symptom is urinary retention, where you lose the ability to empty your bladder or urinate. This causes your bladder to swell and can cause significant pain. This is an emergency and can lead to significant damage to your kidneys if not treated promptly.

5. Urinary tract infections (UTI): UTIs can be the result of BPH. Our bodies flush out bacteria through urination. Anything that impacts one’s ability to urinate properly can cause bacteria to take hold in the urinary tract or bladder. While UTIs have to be treated separately, they are often due to BPH.

6. Bladder stones: When urine sits in your bladder, it can begin to crystallize. The result is bladder stones, which can cause extreme pain and further urinary symptoms. These stones may pass through your urine, but they can also be big enough to block your bladder or urethra.

7. Bloody urine or pain while urinating: If your urine appears bloody or you experience pain when urinating, it could be a sign that you have a UTI or bladder stones due to BPH.

8. Kidney damage: Urinary retention can cause kidney damage, which is serious and potentially life-threatening. While kidney damage would not likely be the first symptom experienced with BPH, it can result from untreated, long-term BPH. It is important to have BPH treated promptly to avoid the risk of damaging your kidneys.

Some men may experience all of these symptoms, while others will have BPH without many noticeable signs. Keep in mind that symptoms are not associated with the size of the prostate.

There are also other conditions and diseases that can cause similar symptoms, such as UTIs, bladder or prostate cancer, and inflammation of the prostate. It’s important to see a medical professional who can diagnose your condition.

BPH (Enlarged Prostate) Risk Factors

Now that you know the symptoms, what are BPH risk factors?

  • The most common risk factor for BPH is ageing. As we age, our prostates grow larger. The risk of developing BPH becomes significant for men over the age of 50. For men over the age of 80, the vast majority will have BPH, although some may not experience symptoms.
  • Genetics also play a part. If you have a family history of BPH, then you are more likely to develop the condition. As well, black men and Caucasian men are at a greater risk of developing BPH compared to Asian men. Women can’t develop BPH as they do not have prostates.
  • Diseases and other conditions can also play a role. Diabetes, heart disease, and obesity can increase your risk of developing BPH. Furthermore, use of some medications, like beta blockers, can also increase your chances of BPH.

Keep an Eye Out for BPH Symptoms

BPH is a common condition experienced by men, and while it sometimes doesn’t result in symptoms, it can lead to serious issues like UTIs and kidney damage. It is important to be aware of BPH symptoms and BPH risk factors, so that you can act fast to treat the condition. Medication or lifestyle changes may be used to help manage BPH.

So keep an eye out for enlarged prostate symptoms as you get older—there’s a good chance you could develop it, but there’s no need to worry as long as you seek proper treatment.

Sources for Today’s Article:
Andriole, G. L., “Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH),” Merck Manual web site;, last accessed December 29, 2015.
“Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH),” Mayo Clinic web site, November 13, 2014;
Case-lo, C., “11 Symptoms of BPH,” Healthline web site, November 7, 2013;
“What is Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)?” Urology Care Foundation web site;, last accessed December 29, 2015.