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Enlarged Prostate


Healthgrades Editorial Staff

What is enlarged prostate?

An enlarged prostate is the slow growth of the prostate gland, which is involved in the production of seminal fluid and reproductive function in men. The prostate wraps around the tube that transports urine out of the bladder. It is very common for the prostate gland to become enlarged as a man ages. An enlarged prostate is also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). BPH is generally not caused by infection or cancer.

As a man matures, the prostate grows. At puberty, the prostate doubles in size. At about age 25, the prostate gland grows again, and this can lead to an enlarged prostate as a man enters his 40s (Source: NIDDK).

An enlarged prostate many not cause any symptoms or noticeable problems in some men. However, as men age, an enlarged prostate may grow to the point where it presses on the bladder and urethra, causing urine flow to be slower and less forceful. Symptoms of enlarged prostate are very common in men in the 60s and extremely common in men in their 70s and 80s.

If an enlarged prostate prevents complete emptying of your bladder, it may lead to a urinary tract infection or permanent damage to your bladder, including the inability to control urination (incontinence). The earlier the enlarged prostate is found, the more effective treatment will be, lowering the risk for complications.

Your health care provider must determine whether your symptoms are a result of enlarged prostate or are the result of other prostate diseases and disorders, such as an infection or cancer. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you have high fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit), severe rectal pain, or the inability to urinate. Seek prompt medical care if you experience other symptoms along with enlarged prostate, including burning or pain during urination, cloudy urine, or lower back pain, or if you are being treated for an infection or prostate cancer but mild symptoms recur or are persistent.

Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Nov 1, 2016

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Medical References

  1. Prostate enlargement: benign prostatic hyperplasia. National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC).
  2. Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
  3. Stroup SP, Palazzi-Churas K, Kopp RP, Parsons JK. Trends in adverse events of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) in the USA, 1998 to 2008. BJU Int 2012; 109:84.
  4. Tierney LM Jr., Saint S, Whooley MA (Eds.) Current Essentials of Medicine (4th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011.

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