What is enlarged prostate gland?
The prostate gland is a walnut-sized organ located behind the pubic bone and in front of the rectum in males. It's made up of smooth muscle, spongy tissue and tiny ducts and glands. The primary function of the prostate gland is to produce seminal fluid — the fluid that transports sperm..
The prostate is a gland located at the base of a man's bladder, behind the pubic bone and in front of the rectum. This gland, which is roughly the size and shape of a small crab apple, weighs only about an ounce in young men.
An enlarged prostate means the gland has grown bigger. In the beginning, when the prostate is just starting to enlarge, the bladder counters the effects of the narrowed urethra by contracting more forcefully and forcing the urine through the urethra. This in turn causes the bladder to thicken and increase in sensitivity, resulting in the need to urinate more frequently. These urges commonly occur at night, disrupting the individual's sleep pattern and causing a whole host of side effects relating to fatigue, such as weakness, attention difficulties, and memory issues.
An enlarged prostate is often called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or benign prostatic hypertrophy.
|Video: Prostate enlargement animation|
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
The actual cause of prostate enlargement is unknown. Some facts about prostate enlargement:
- The likelihood of developing an enlarged prostate increases with age.
- BPH is so common that it has been said all men will have an enlarged prostate if they live long enough.
- A small amount of prostate enlargement is present in many men over age 40 and more than 90% of men over age 80.
- No risk factors have been identified other than having normally functioning testicles.
Less than half of all men with BPH have symptoms of the disease, which include:
- Inability to urinate (urinary retention)
- Incomplete emptying of your bladder
- Dribbling at the end of urinating
- Slowed or delayed start of the urinary stream
- Needing to urinate two or more times per night
- Pain with urination or bloody urine (these may indicate infection)
- Straining to urinate
- Strong and sudden urge to urinate
- Weak urine stream
Signs and tests
Patients with enlarged prostate often perform a digital rectal exam to feel the prostate gland. The following tests may also be performed:
- Urine flow rate
- Post-void residual urine test to see how much urine is left in your bladder after urination
- Pressure flow studies to measure the pressure in the bladder as you urinate
- Urinalysis to check for blood or infection
- Urine culture to check for infection
- Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test to screen for prostate cancer
Patients have to complete a form to evaluate the severity of their symptoms and their impact on daily life. The score may be compared to past records to determine if the condition is getting worse.