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eMed previously Babylon Health

Benign Prostate Enlargement

Benign prostate enlargement (also known as benign prostate hyperplasia) is a common condition in men over the age of 50. The prostate gland is usually walnut-sized and is located between the penis and bladder, with the urethra running through the prostate. The urethra is a tube carrying urine from the bladder to outside the body, it also carries sperm in men. Having an enlarged prostate can cause problems urinating and other uncomfortable symptoms, due to the enlarged prostate pressing down on the urethra. Benign means that the enlargement of the prostate is not cancerous.

Fortunately, the condition can usually be treated relatively easily with both lifestyle changes and prescription medications. Speak with an experienced GP to find out more about benign prostate enlargement and how it can be effectively treated.

Causes of benign prostate enlargement

The exact cause of prostate enlargement in men is not known, but many experts believe it is linked with natural hormonal changes within the body. Everyone’s hormone levels change as they age, and this can cause fluctuations in the size of the prostate gland.


The symptoms of this condition can range from mild to severe. Those with more severe symptoms can have trouble going about their daily lives because of the disruption and discomfort caused. The most common symptoms of benign prostate enlargement include:

  • Difficulty urinating
  • Sudden urges to urinate
  • Needing to urinate more frequently, especially during the night
  • Stress incontinence – accidentally urinating while sneezing or coughing
  • Feeling desperate to urinate, but only able to produce a weak stream

Many men worry that any sign of an enlarged prostate may be linked with prostate cancer. There’s no evidence to suggest a link between benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostate cancer, however the presenting symptoms can be similar to more serious conditions so you should always seek medical advice if you have concerns.

Complications of benign prostate enlargement:

  • Urinary tract infection
  • Acute urinary retention - this is when you are suddenly unable to pass urine and can be associated with severe lower abdominal pain and a swollen bladder you can feel by gently pressing on your abdomen. If you experience these symptoms please go straight to A&E.

Treatment for benign prostate enlargement

Doctors treating benign prostate enlargement will often advise lifestyle changes, including drinking less alcohol, exercising regularly, and limiting the intake of artificial sweeteners and caffeine.

For those suffering from more severe cases, medication can be prescribed to relax the muscle in the prostate or reduce the size of the prostate which can help alleviate symptoms and provide some relief. If you do not respond to any lifestyle changes or medications, surgery can be considered – but discuss possible treatments with a GP if you have concerns.

The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of a doctor with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never delay seeking or disregard professional medical advice because of something you have read here.