What is the prostate and why is it useful?
The prostate gland is the male sexual gland that lies in front of the back passage and just below the bladder. It is normally about the size of a chestnut and surrounds a tube known as the urethra through which urine flows from the bladder and out of the body.
The prostate’s role is to manufacture the fluid that mixes with sperm thus allowing it to move more freely and increasing the chances of fertilisation. However, from the age of 45 (or there about) it gradually increases in size and so can lead to medical problems, some of which are more serious than others.
What happens when the prostate enlarges?
As the urethral passage from the bladder to the penis runs through the prostate gland, if the prostate enlarges, the urethra gets squeezed and the flow of urine starts to become obstructed.
This causes the classic and well-known signs of prostate enlargement such as needing to go to the toilet more frequently and having to use the toilet at night. The larger the prostate the more chance there is that BPH will occur.
Symptoms associated with BPH include:
The impact of BPH
Suffering from BPH can lead to lots of additional problems such as irritability, anxiety and loss of sex drive. So, it can also have a significant, negative impact on the quality of life of the men affected, as well on their families too.
If left untreated BPH can unfortunately lead to an increased risk of serious long-term complications such as acute retention of urine, kidney and bladder conditions, as well as hospitalisation.
If you have a BPH diagnosis, there is good news as nowadays there are many very effective treatments available to relieve symptoms such as medication and, on occasions, surgery.
Many men with BPH suffer in silence, mistakenly believing that their symptoms have come about because they are getting older and so nothing can be done for them.
I always urge men with symptoms of BPH to discuss the problem with their doctor as urinary symptoms do not need to be a constant issue for them, and that they can get help to improve the quality of their day-to-day life.
If you feel that you, or someone you know, has symptoms suggestive of BPH then always get checked out – life may dramatically change for the better if you do!
Meet our guest blogger
Dr Roger Henderson is a senior partner in a busy general practice in Shropshire and his medical responsibilities also include teaching both medical students and GP registrars. He sits on a number of health advisory boards both in the UK and globally.
To find out more about Dr Henderson visit http://www.doctorhenderson.co.uk/
Originally published 9th July 2014 (updated on 1st February 2020)