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Prostate enlargement

Whakawhānuitanga repe tātea

Illustration showing a cross section of the male anatomy with a larger than normal prostate glandProstate gland enlargement is also called benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH. Benign means non-cancerous. Prostatic means of the prostate. Hyperplasia means over-growth of cells.

It's normal for your prostate gland to get bigger around the age of 40. Many men will not have any symptoms with this enlargement. But for some men, it can cause problems with urinating (weeing). This is due to the gland tightening around your urethra, the tube you pass urine through.

An enlarged prostate is not prostate cancer and doesn't cause cancer. But you can get prostate cancer in an enlarged prostate so it's still important to have regular checks.

Symptoms of an enlarged prostate

Symptoms include:

Diagnosing an enlarged prostate

Your general practice team might ask you to complete a scoresheet of your symptoms called an International prostate symptoms score (IPSS).

Your doctor might carry out a digital rectal examination. This is when they gently insert a lubricated gloved finger into your back passage to examine your prostate.

You may have blood tests to check your kidney function and you'll be offered a PSA blood test.

You may have an ultrasound scan of your kidneys and bladder.

Treating an enlarged prostate

If you only have mild symptoms, you may not need any treatment.

If needed, your doctor may prescribe a medication such as doxazosin or finasteride to help improve wee (urine) symptoms.

If you have severe symptoms that do not improve with medication or if you have a total blockage of the urethra (urinary retention), you may benefit from surgery. Surgery to treat an enlarged prostate is known as a transurethral resection of prostate (TURP).

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On the next page: Prostate surgery

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed July 2022.


See also:

Overview of the prostate

Prostate surgery

You and your catheter

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