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Benign Prostate Hyperplasia (BPH)

  • Benign prostate hyperplasia, or BPH, is a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate gland, the gland that makes fluid to nourish and help sperm motility. The prostate is donut-shaped, surrounding the urethra at the neck of the bladder. As men become older, the prostate may increase in size. This is a normal part of aging and common in men over the age of 50. When the prostate gland is large, and presses on the urethra, this is called hyperplasia.

  • If the increased size of the prostate narrows the urethra, it may affect the ability to urinate. Symptoms may include:

    • Trouble starting the flow of urine
    • Experiencing a ‘start-stop-start’ pattern of urination
    • Increasing frequency or urgency of the need to urinate
    • Difficulty emptying the bladder completely
    • Dribbling at the end of the urine stream

    For most men, symptoms are mild and merely bothersome. For others, as symptoms worsen over time, BPH affects quality of life, interrupts sleep, and can lead to incontinence and possible urinary tract, bladder or kidney problems.

  • Medical intervention for BPH is needed when the condition results in:

    • Troublesome incontinence
    • Bladder stones
    • Kidney damage due to incomplete emptying of the bladder
    • Infection of urine not voided
    • Acute retention leading to complete inability to urinate
  • Your medical provider will perform a physical analysis including a digital rectal exam, urinalysis and bloodwork, including measuring prostate specific antigen (PSA) to help rule out possible prostate cancer.

  • Treatment options today are extensive, from watchful waiting to medications, to surgery. Treatments offered through Virginia Mason Medical Center include:

    • Regular monitoring (often called watchful waiting)
    • Medication therapies (to either relax smooth muscle tissue of the prostate or to act upon male hormones); side effects and effectiveness varies
    • Surgeries
      • Photovaporization of the prostate and other laser therapies
      • Prostatic urethral lift
      • Transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP)
      • Traditional, open prostatectomy


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