Benign prostatic hyperplasia explained
What is benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)?
As you get older your prostate can grow bigger.1 This doesn’t necessarily mean prostate cancer, but is referred to medically as benign prostate hyperplasia, or BPH for short.1 Benign means non-cancerous and hyperplasia means enlarged, so BPH is literally an enlarged prostate.2
How common is BPH in Australia?
BPH happens as you get older, with roughly 50% of men over the age of 50 experiencing it. This increases to roughly 80% of men over the age of 80.2
Causes and risk factors for BPH
No one really know what causes BPH. It is thought to be connected to your changing hormones as you age - particularly testosterone which can cause the prostate to get bigger.2
There are some factors that can increase your risk of developing BPH, including:2
- Living with obesity
- A diagnosis of metabolic syndrome, diabetes mellitus or high blood pressure
- A diet low in fruits and vegetables
- A family history of BPH
Symptoms of BPH
As the prostate gets bigger it can press on the urethra (the tube you pee through), affecting how you pee.1,2 You might experience:1,2
- A weak stream when peeing
- Needing to go to the toilet more - even through the night
- Difficulty peeing - like trouble starting, only a trickle or a dribble at the end
- Feeling like your bladder is still full even though you just went
See your doctor if you have any problems going to the toilet - they can give you advice on what tests, management or treatment options are available.
Enlarged prostate treatment
How you treat BPH depends on the symptoms you have. Your GP might refer you to a specialist called a urologist. They might also recommend lifestyle changes like cutting down on caffeine and alcohol. Avoiding certain foods (acidic or spicy), drinking less fluid in the evening and doing pelvic floor exercises.2
Medications are available, as is surgery for severe cases.2 Your healthcare team will help find the right approach for your situation.
Prevention is always better than cure - so try to avoid things that increase your risk, such as eating enough fruits and vegetables and maintaining a healthy weight.2
Find out more about prostate cancer here
- Cancer Council. Understanding prostate cancer. Reviewed March 2022. Available from: https://www.cancercouncil.com.au/prostate-cancer/about-prostate-cancer/ (accessed August 2023).
- HealthDirect. Benign prostate hypertrophy. Reviewed November 2022. Available from: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/benign-prostate-hypertrophy (accessed August 2023).