Health Guide

Benign prostatic hypertrophy

What is it?

  • Benign (buh-nine) prostatic (prah-stah-tik) hypertrophy (hi-per-tro-fee) is when the prostate (prah-state) grows larger. It is also called "BPH." The prostate is a male sex gland that helps makes semen. It sits below the bladder and wraps around the urethra (u-ree-thruh) like a donut. The urethra is the tube that carries urine from the bladder into the penis. The urine is then passed out of the body.
  • As the prostate grows, it can squeeze the urethra, making it harder to urinate (pass urine). This can block urine flow and cause problems. BPH is very common in men over 45 years but rarely causes problems before age 60. Tests will be done to learn about your prostate. You may need medicine or prostate surgery if your urinary problems get worse.


It is not known what causes BPH. It may be just part of aging. Some caregivers believe it is caused by a change in hormones as men age.

Signs and Symptoms:

Most men feel like they need to pass urine often. Some men may pass little or no urine. You may dribble or leak urine. You may pass urine while you sleep. Or, you may need to wake up at night to urinate. You may have to push to start your urine stream. You may feel that you need to pass more urine even if you just did. You may also think your urine stream is weak. Your urine may look pink or red. This may mean there is blood in it.

Wellness Recommendations:

If your prostate is enlarged, you should avoid stimulants or decongestants (often found in over-the-counter cold and allergy medications). These can contract the muscle fibers in the prostate and make the symptoms much worse.

Medical Care:

Your may need antibiotic medicine if a urine test finds germs (bacteria) in the urine. You may also be given medicine that keeps the prostate from growing. Medicine that makes the muscle fibers in the prostate relax may be used to treat BPH. A catheter (soft rubber tube) may be put into your bladder to drain your urine. You may be put in the hospital for tests and treatment. You may even need to have surgery to fix the problem.


A doctor should check you to make sure that there are no serious problems.

Dietary Measures:

A diet high in fruit and soy and low in fat (particularly butter and margarine) seems to decrease the risk of BPH.

Herbs and Supplements:

Before taking any herbs or supplements, ask your caregiver if it is OK. Talk to your caregiver about how much you should take. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the label. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to. The herbs and supplements listed may or may not help treat your condition.



      Recommended Screening Tests/Exams:

      Between 40 and 50 years, men should have their prostate checked each year by a caregiver. Many doctors will also do a PSA (prostate specific antigen) blood test to check prostate growth. This helps you find out early if your prostate is becoming larger than normal. By knowing this, you can keep from having problems caused by BPH. An ultrasound may be done to check the size of your prostate. A urine flow study or cystoscopy (sis-toss-kuh-p) are other tests that may be done. A prostate gland biopsy may also need to be done.

      Other ways of treating your symptoms : Other ways to treat your symptoms are available to you.

      Talk to your caregiver if:

      • You would like medicine to treat BPH.
      • Your symptoms have not gone away or improved by these self-help measures.
      • You have questions about what you have read in this document.


      • You cannot urinate at all or your bladder is full and painful. You may need to have your bladder emptied with a catheter.

      Care Agreement:

      You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. You can then discuss treatment options with your caregivers. Work with them to decide what care may be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment.


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      Last Updated: 7/4/2018
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