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Enlarged prostate symptoms

Symptoms of an enlarged prostate are experienced by 50% of men over 50

The prostate is a gland that sits under the male bladder and surrounds the urethra. This is the key reason why symptoms of prostate enlargement are usually problems with urination. On this page Dr. Jen Tan explores both the 'irritative' and 'obstructive' symptoms of an enlarged prostate.

An introduction to enlarged prostate symptoms

The prostate usually goes unnoticed, but when it becomes enlarged, several problems may arise. Symptoms that result can be categorised as either 'irritative' or 'obstructive'.

'Irritative symptoms' come about because the enlarged prostate presses against the bladder, leading to irritation.

'Obstructive symptoms' are caused by the enlarged prostate squeezing the urethra (the tube in which urine travels out of the bladder). interrupting the normal flow of urine.

Irritative symptoms of prostate enlargement

As the prostate enlarges, it presses against and puts pressure on the base or bottom of the bladder. This has the effect of ‘irritating’ the bladder, giving rise to what doctors call ‘irritative symptoms’. This pressure sends signals to your brain, fooling you into thinking your bladder is ‘full’ when it really isn’t.

This is the reason that men with an enlarged prostate feel:

Lastly, men with an enlarged prostate may also experience loss of libido or sexual function. The precise reasons for this are still to be fully explained, but it is thought that pressure, and irritation of the bladder and surrounding structures, could play a part. What is interesting is that when symptoms of prostate enlargement improve, so can sexual function.

Obstructive symptoms of prostate enlargement

An enlarged prostate can also ‘squeeze’ the urethra, making it more difficult for urine to flow out of the bladder. This gives rise to ‘obstructive symptoms’. This effect is similar to having a blockage in your garden hose. Obstructive symptoms of an enlarged prostate are:

  • Poor urine stream
  • Weak urine stream
  • Difficulty getting started when needing to urinate
  • Stopping and starting rather than having a steady stream
  • Dribbling at the end of urination.

When to seek help

If you think you have symptoms of an enlarged prostate, the first thing you should do is to get the diagnosis confirmed by your doctor. One of the most important reasons is to exclude the possibility of prostate cancer which may give the same symptoms.

Either before or after a diagnosis is made, you should seek your doctor’s opinion if you experience any of the following symptoms:

If you are under 40 it is unlikely that you will suffer from an enlarged prostate, even if you experience some of the symptoms described on this page. Should you experience these symptoms, you should consult your doctor in order to determine what is causing them.

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"Having been told by a consultant urologist some 30 years ago that I would at some stage require surgery, I am pleased to say that having used the saw palmetto capsules from that time he has (so far) been proved wrong!" James, UK

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I would love to hear what you thought of the information you have read on this page. Just leave your comment below, thanks Dr. Jen Tan

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