What to look out for if you have BPH

Can you tell if your BPH symptoms are indicating something more serious?

Dr. Roger Henderson

23 July 2014

What to look out for if you have BPH

There are a number of common symptoms linked to prostate problems that I see in my surgery, with the typical ones being;

  • Fever and chills
  • Painful or difficult urination
  • Pain in the lower back or groin area
  • Weakening of the urine stream or ‘stopping and starting’ when urinating
  • A feeling of needing to get out of bed to pass urine regularly
  • Having to hurry to the toilet to pass urine


It is important to point out that if any of these are present it does not necessarily mean there is anything seriously wrong, but does suggest that a doctor should assess you. There are three main problems linked to the prostate gland that make up the bulk of my prostate workload on a daily basis – prostatitis, BPH and prostate cancer.


Here there is infection of the prostate gland that can either be acute (one time only) or chronic (ongoing). Chronic prostatitis is usually more difficult to treat but for most men a course of antibiotics is necessary to treat this initially.

Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)

This is a very common problem that increases the older men get, and around half of all men have an enlarged prostate by the age of 50 and about 9 out of 10 men have an enlarged prostate by the age of 90. The exact reasons why some men develop BPH and an enlarged prostate aren’t fully understood at present but there are two factors that affect your likelihood of developing BPH; your age and the level of hormones in your body. As you get older the level of hormones in your body change and this may affect your prostate gland.

If not treated, BPH can cause incontinence, bladder infections, and possible kidney damage and there are usually problems with passing water such as having to get up a number of times at night to go to the toilet, poor stream, and taking a long time to pass urine initially.

One of the difficulties I have as a GP is that it can sometimes be difficult to differentiate between the symptoms of BPH and the early signs and symptoms of prostate cancer, which is why early assessment – usually by an examination of the prostate gland and sometimes a simple blood test – is so important here. Unfortunately, men can be notoriously slow at coming forward to be checked out and will often think to get their car fixed long before they think about getting themselves assessed!

Fortunately, there are many treatments available for treating BPH ranging from simple supplements, to prescription medication and simple surgical treatments. It is not the case that BPH automatically leads on to prostate cancer as some men imagine, nor is it the case that the older you are, the less likely treatment will work – men of any age can be successfully treated for their BPH.

Prostate cancer

Rather than considering the more common problem of BPH, men with prostate symptoms are often far more concerned about the possibility of them having prostate cancer, now the commonest male cancer in the UK.

If not treated, the cancer can spread throughout the body but the good news is that if detected early, chances for a complete recovery are good. Symptoms are often similar to those of BPH so it is always worth getting checked out by your doctor to rule out prostate cancer, using the same type of examination and simple blood test (called the PSA test) as with BPH.

If your GP feels that prostate cancer remains a possibility they will refer you to a specialist for further tests such as a prostate biopsy, urine flow tests and scans.

Remember – if in doubt, always get checked out!

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

"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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  • Wayne Boothroyd's photo avatar
    Wayne Boothroyd — 17.07.2017 12:57
    I have been told by a lay person that Cows Milk Can affect the Prostate, I don't know if this is true or False. I have not tried Saw Palmeto but may consider it.


    • Jen Tan's photo avatar
      Jen Tan — 17.07.2017 17:21
      It is not been scientifically confirmed that cow's milk can affect symptoms of an enlarged prostate however some people do find that dairy foods or high protein foods can worsen symptoms. In my view, this is probably an individual effect with some people more sensitive to dairy products than others. On the other hand there is a good deal of evidence that Saw palmetto can help with symptoms of mild to moderate prostatic enlargement and it will be worth a trial of 2 or 3 months to see if you respond.


  •  Edward Davies's photo avatar
    Edward Davies — 21.03.2017 07:39
    If i ask my G P . could it be prostatitis. instead of enlarge prostate or with prostatitis could i get medication for that ?


    • Dr Jen Tan's photo avatar
      Dr Jen Tan — 07.04.2017 11:50
      Hello, Yes to help clarify the situation for you best see the Doctor. They will take into account your medical history and symptoms. They can carry out a physical exam and any bacteria tests to establish what is going on for you. This is normally treated using antibiotics depending on how minor or moderate your symptoms are, but your doctor will advise you.


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What's being asked

Hi, I had a blood test a few weeks ago to check for prostate cancer, which came back as negative. Would this test tell me if I had an enlarged prostate?

No, blood tests are not part of the diagnosis for an enlarged prostate.
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I have an enlarged prostate. I take Saw Palmetto with other ingredients including zinc etc. Any other ideas please?

Zinc is a good supplement to take, as it is thought to benefit the prostate gland generally. You ...
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I have an enlarged prostate and have had a biopsy. All is ok but is there a herbal or other type of product I can take to reduce the size of my prostate?

If you have a diagnosis of enlarged prostate then you can take Prostasan Saw Palmetto capsules to ...
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Here's what I recommend

As the A. Vogel Men’s Health expert, I recommend Prostasan® Saw Palmetto capsules to help relieve symptoms arising from enlarged prostate.

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Did you know?

BPH is a very common problem that increases the older men get, and around half of all men have an enlarged prostate by the age of 50. At the age of 80, this has risen to 80%

What you need to know about BPH
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