As men age, it's not uncommon that they find they make more frequent trips to the bathroom-especially in the middle of the night. For most men, this inconvenience is often made worse by the need to push or strain while urinating. Some even encounter pain or burning while urinating.
While the majority of men over age 60 experience these symptoms, most are not aware of what causes them. Symptoms such as these may be signs of an enlarged prostate, one of the most common urological disorders affecting men over the age of 60. In fact, 60 percent of men over the age of 60 and up to 80 percent of men over the age of 80 have an enlarged prostate.
An enlarged prostate, or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), is not life threatening. It is not a form of prostate cancer, nor does it lead to prostate cancer. However, as many men know, it can cause significant discomfort, inconvenience and awkwardness. BPH symptoms differ depending on the severity of the condition. The most common symptoms include:
- Waking at night to urinate
- Frequent need to urinate (sometimes every two hours or less)
- Pain or burning during urination
- Repeated, sudden or uncontrollable urge to urinate
- Pushing or straining to begin urination
- Feeling like the bladder does not empty during urination
- Dribbling after urination
As a man ages, the chance of developing BPH increases. This is because of growth patterns associated with the prostate. After a male reaches the age of 40, a second round of prostate growth often occurs as a natural part of the aging process.
The prostate is a gland located just below the bladder whose main function is to produce fluid for semen. As it expands, it can squeeze and place pressure on the urethra, like a clamp on a garden hose, thus constricting urinary flow. As pressure builds and the "clamp" tightens, the result can be some of the commonly perceived BPH symptoms.
Although there is no known cure for BPH, there are medications and procedures available to reduce the symptoms. These range from prescription oral medications and surgical procedures to minimally invasive, office-based procedures that can provide rapid symptom relief.