The prostate is a male reproductive gland that produces the fluid that carries sperm during ejaculation. It is located in front of the rectum and just below the bladder. The prostate gland also surrounds the urethra, the canal through which urine passes. An enlarged prostate - called benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) - means the gland has grown larger. As the gland grows, it can press on the urethra causing urination and bladder problems. BPH is not cancer, and men who have BPH are not at increased risk for developing prostate cancer. Common symptoms of BPH include:
- Delayed start of the urinary stream
- Dribbling at the end of urinating
- Feeling that the bladder never completely empties
- Frequent urination (especially at night)
- Inability to urinate (urinary retention)
- Pain with urination or bloody urine
- Sense of urgency
- Straining to urinate
- Weak stream
Age is the most common cause of BPH. In fact, almost all men will develop an enlarged prostate if they live long enough. Today, approximately 50 percent of men in their 60s have BPH and as many as 90 percent of men in their 70s and 80s have symptoms of BPH.
Although there are no known risk factors for BPH, a family history of prostate problems indicates that you are at increased risk for developing BPH as well.