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The prostate gland in males surrounds the urethra, through which urine and sperm are passed out of the body. Its function is to secrete a fluid, which provides nourishment to the sperm. It is about the shape of a walnut and is present between the pubic bone and the rectum.
As a man crosses 40, the prostate gland begins to increase in size due to an increase in the number of cells. This is known as hyperplasia. The condition is usually benign and therefore the name benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH). As it continues to grow, there is an increased pressure on the urethra. Therefore, there can be problems with urination. The bladder, being a muscular organ, compensates to some extent and so the problems with urination are mostly managed. If left untreated, this can continue to be a major problem and the bladder may not be able to compensate. In men who are 60-plus, BPH is very common.
Signs and symptoms
- One of the initial symptoms of BPH is when the urine stream begins to grow weak.
- There could also be a reduced speed of passing urine.
- Men with BPH never have a feeling of complete emptying of the bladder.
- On the other hand, there is also a constant difficulty in initiating a urine stream. There could be intermittent breaks in the urine stream.
- The person may feel the need to strain to initiate the stream and to ensure complete emptying.
- There could be dribbling of urine after passing urine.
- The duration between two bathroom visits can constantly reduce, with the constant urge to urinate.
- There is a constant urge to visit the bathroom, which is more common in the night. One of the most annoying features of BPH is the walking up at night to urinate, but with an inability to initiate a stream and an inability to completely empty the bladder, it leaves the person very irritated and frustrated.
- There could be blood in the urine. In fact, blood in the urine accompanied by fever, chills, nausea and vomiting are indications of an emergency.
- There could be blockage of urine completely, if the enlargement is quite severe.
If you are having any of these symptoms, then the doctor will first test for an enlarged prostate through a digital rectal exam. Then a test is done to check a chemical called prostate specific antigen. Increased levels of this chemical is almost always indicative of BPH. In addition, X-rays and scanning may be used to confirm diagnosis.
Though medications are available, confirmatory treatment is through surgical removal. The procedure needs a inimum of 2 to 3 days. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a urologist and ask a free question.