Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) â also called prostate gland enlargement â is a common condition as men get older. An enlarged prostate gland can cause uncomfortable urinary symptoms, such as blocking the flow of urine out of the bladder. It can also cause bladder, urinary tract or kidney problems.
There are several effective treatments for prostate gland enlargement, including medications, minimally invasive therapies and surgery. To choose the best option, you and your doctor will consider your symptoms, the size of your prostate, other health conditions you might have and your preferences.
The severity of symptoms in people who have prostate gland enlargement varies, but symptoms tend to gradually worsen over time. Common signs and symptoms of BPH include:
Less common signs and symptoms include:
The size of your prostate doesn't necessarily determine the severity of your symptoms. Some men with only slightly enlarged prostates can have significant symptoms, while other men with very enlarged prostates can have only minor urinary symptoms.
In some men, symptoms eventually stabilize and might even improve over time.
Conditions that can lead to symptoms similar to those caused by enlarged prostate include:
If you're having urinary problems, discuss them with your doctor. Even if you don't find urinary symptoms bothersome, it's important to identify or rule out any underlying causes. Untreated, urinary problems might lead to obstruction of the urinary tract.
If you're unable to pass any urine, seek immediate medical attention.
The prostate gland is located beneath your bladder. The tube that transports urine from the bladder out of your penis (urethra) passes through the center of the prostate. When the prostate enlarges, it begins to block urine flow.
Most men have continued prostate growth throughout life. In many men, this continued growth enlarges the prostate enough to cause urinary symptoms or to significantly block urine flow.
It isn't entirely clear what causes the prostate to enlarge. However, it might be due to changes in the balance of sex hormones as men grow older.
Your doctor will start by asking detailed questions about your symptoms and doing a physical exam. This initial exam is likely to include:
After that, your doctor might recommend additional tests to help confirm an enlarged prostate and to rule out other conditions. These tests include:
If your condition is more complex, your doctor may recommend:
Mayo Clinic specialists have experience diagnosing complex conditions involving enlarged prostate. You have access to the latest diagnostic testing, including urodynamic and pressure flow studies.
Complications of an enlarged prostate can include:
Most men with an enlarged prostate don't develop these complications. However, acute urinary retention and kidney damage can be serious health threats.
Having an enlarged prostate is not believed to increase your risk of developing prostate cancer.
The Food and Drug Administration hasn't approved any herbal medications for treatment of an enlarged prostate.
Studies on herbal therapies as a treatment for enlarged prostate have had mixed results. One study found that saw palmetto extract was as effective as finasteride in relieving symptoms of BPH, although prostate volumes weren't reduced. But a subsequent placebo-controlled trial found no evidence that saw palmetto is better than a placebo.
Other herbal treatments â including beta-sitosterol extracts, pygeum and rye grass â have been suggested as helpful for reducing enlarged prostate symptoms. But the safety and long-term efficacy of these treatments hasn't been proved.
If you take any herbal remedies, tell your doctor. Certain herbal products might increase the risk of bleeding or interfere with other medications you're taking.
To help control the symptoms of an enlarged prostate, try to:
Risk factors for prostate gland enlargement include: