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Enlarged Prostate (BPH)

What is an enlarged prostate?

As you might expect, an enlarged prostate means the gland has grown bigger. Prostate enlargement happens to almost all men as they get older. However, if your prostate gland grows too much, it can press on your urethra and cause urination and bladder problems. And it's not confined to human beings: dogs often suffer from canine enlarged prostate!

An enlarged prostate is often called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or benign prostatic hypertrophy. A moderately enlarged gland is about the size of a plum; a very enlarged gland is about the size of an apple or orange; an extremely enlarged gland can reach the size of a grapefruit.

It's important to realize that an enlarged prostate (BPH) does not turn into prostate cancer and sufferers have no increased risk of prostate cancer. BPH is a non-cancerous (benign) enlargement; unfortunately it can have symptoms that are distinctly deleterious to your normal lifestyle, similar to chronic prostatitis.

What causes enlarged prostate (BPH)?

Doctors aren't sure what causes Enlarged Prostate (BPH). most authorities believe factors linked to aging and the testicles themselves may play a role in the growth of the gland. There's no evidence that vasectomy, a history of venereal disease, lactoferrin or transferrin in colostrum, smoking or bicycling cause an enlarged prostate any more than they cause prostate cancer.

As you get older, your prostate becomes more responsive to the growth-stimulating effects of the male hormones testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT). If you've got BPH you don't have higher levels of these hormones, but you do become more sensitive to them. Men who have had their testicles removed when they were young (for example, as a result of testicular cancer) do not develop BPH.


Symptoms of an enlarged prostate

It's sad but true that most men eventually develop some prostate enlargement as they get older, and about half of these men seek medical treatment to alleviate their enlarged prostate symptoms. These fall into two general categories, those caused by the enlarged prostate obstructing the uretha and those caused by irritation:

Common obstructing symptoms include:

Common irritating symptoms include:


Who gets an enlarged prostate (BPH)?

Well, anyone really. It's pretty common for older men to have BPH severe enough to cause troubling urinary symptoms. In fact, age seems to be the primary risk factor. It's rare in men younger than 40, but by the time they reach 60 half have BPH symptoms and these symptoms generally get worse with age. In fact, up to 90 percent of men in their 70s and 80s have prostate gland enlargement, but only some men seek treatment so presumably the others' symptoms aren't giving them sufficient grief for them to seek medical care.

If you're older, your prostate is more likely to be enlarged, but in this case it's not mere size that matters: the important thing is where the prostate growth is occurring. If the encirclement of the uretha is getting tighter or it's pressing against your bladder then you're going to get symptoms.

Next page: Treating an enlarged prostate


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