The prostate is a gland that produces the liquid part of semen (the fluid produced when you ejaculate). Its about the size of a walnut and lies at the base of your bladder. The front of your prostate surrounds your urethra the tube that carries urine from your bladder and out through your penis.
Any change in the size or shape of your prostate can narrow this tube, making it difficult for you to pass urine. If you have BPH, a rapid growth in the cells in your prostate can lead to growth of your prostate gland. Not all men with BPH will develop an enlarged prostate.
SYMPTOMS OF BENIGN ENLARGED PROSTATE
If you have an enlarged prostate you may get symptoms such as:
- Difficulty in passing urine
- A weak flow of urine that sometimes starts and stops
- Dribbling of urine before and after urinating
- Feeling that you havent emptied your bladder after urinating
- A frequent or urgent need to pass urine
- Frequently needing to go to the toilet at night
- If you have any of these symptoms, see your gp.
CAUSES OF BENIGN ENLARGED PROSTATE
The exact reasons why some men develop BPH and an enlarged prostate are not fully understood at present. However, the main risk factor is age. Nearly a third of men over the age of 50 are thought to have symptoms caused by an enlarged prostate.
DIAGNOSIS OF BENIGN ENLARGED PROSTATE
Your GP will ask you about your symptoms and examine you. He or she may ask you to complete a questionnaire to assess how severe your symptoms are and how much they are bothering you.
Your GP will feel your abdomen to check whether your bladder is swollen. Your GP may suggest the following tests to rule out prostate cancer as a cause of your symptoms.
- A digital rectal examination. This is an examination to check the size of your prostate gland and what it feels like. Your doctor will insert his or her finger into your rectum (back passage), where he or she will be able to feel your prostate gland.
- A blood test for prostate-specific antigen (PSA). This is a protein produced by the prostate. High levels of PSA can sometimes be a signof cancer, but may also be a result of BPH, infections and other reasons. Your GP will discuss the pros and cons of this test with you to help you decide whether to have it. Your GP may also ask you for a urine sample and blood tests to check for urinary tract infections and check how well your kidneys are working. Your GP may refer you to a urologist (a doctor who specialises in identifying and tr ating conditions that affect the urinary system) if there are any doubts about your diagnosis, or if you need surgery. The urologist may advise the following tests.
- An ultrasound. This uses sound waves to produce an image of the inside of your abdomen. This can be used to check the size of your prostate and your bladder.
- A urine flow test. This measures the speed of your urine output (how fast it flows).
- A urodynamic study. In this test, a fine tube
(catheter) is inserted up through your urethra and into your bladder to measure the pressure