The prostate is a small, walnut-sized gland that sits at the base of the bladder in men. As you age, it often gets bigger, pressing on your bladder and urethra – the tube that carries urine to your penis and out of your body. This is common in men over the age of 50, and can cause symptoms that affect your urine flow.
It’s not serious in itself but it can raise your risk of a urinary tract infection or a condition called acute urinary retention, when you can’t empty your bladder even though it’s full - this is a medical emergency.
An enlarged prostate doesn’t increase your risk of prostate cancer, but you can have both at the same time.
Typical symptoms include:
Some of the symptoms of an enlarged prostate are similar to those caused by prostate cancer, so it’s important to get them checked by your GP. Tests to spot the signs may include:
Your GP may refer you to a urologist, a doctor who specialises in urinary problems.
The exact causes are unknown but it’s thought to be down to hormonal changes that happen as men get older. Certain things that may increase your risk include:
You may be able to manage your symptoms through lifestyle changes:
You can also try changing your urinary habits:
If lifestyle changes aren’t enough, your GP may recommend medications which can shrink your prostate, help you pass urine or prevent urination at night.
If symptoms persist, there are many surgical and non-surgical methods available. Your doctor will recommend what’s best for you.
A catheter is a soft tube that can help drain your bladder. It may be an option if lifestyle changes and medication haven’t worked, you aren’t suitable for surgery and you have problems totally emptying your bladder.