Benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH, is a prostate condition that affects men of middle age or above. Benign prostatic hyperplasia is a swelling of the prostate gland that is not due to prostate cancer. Unfortunately, since the prostate gland grows wrapped around the upper portion of the urethra, if it swells, negative side-effects can result. Benign prostatic hyperplasia is also known as benign prostatic hypertrophy.
The symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia can include involuntary urination, difficulty urinating, weak stream, painful urination and in some extreme cases even the complete inability to urinate. The condition can be very uncomfortable and detrimental to maintaining a properly working, healthy urinary system.
What exactly causes benign prostatic hyperplasia is still not completely understood by modern medicine. Studies have not been able to pinpoint any specific risk factors, making it difficult or impossible to prevent BPH through lifestyle, diet or exercise changes. It has long been known that older men suffer from benign prostatic hyperplasia, and there is a strong connection between male hormones and aging and growth of the prostate gland.
Throughout the entirety of their lives, men produce both the male hormone testosterone and a small amount of the female hormone, estrogen. As a natural side-effect of aging, the amount of testosterone active in the bloodstream decreases. This upsets the ratio between testosterone and estrogen, and the relative increase of estrogen in the blood may play a part in stimulating growth of the prostate gland later in life.
Another potential cause of benign prostatic hyperplasia is an increase in levels of dihydrotestosterone, a substance that is derived from testosterone and may play a part in regulation of prostate growth. In nature, as most animals age, they stop producing dihydrotestosterone.
But in human beings, even as testosterone levels drop during the aging process, mens bodies still produce high levels of dihydrotestosterone in the prostate gland. Researchers have come to suspect that high levels of this hormone may promote the growth of cells in the prostate, as men who do not produce dihydrotestosterone do not develop benign prostatic hyperplasia.
There is a surgical procedure that corrects BPH, and it is known as transurethral resection of the prostate, and a portion of the prostate gland is actually removed in order to relieve the pressure on the urethra and restore proper urine flow. Following surgery, patients are often required to remain in the hospital for a day or two for observation.
Side effects from the surgery can include frequent urination due to swelling, and strenuous activity and sexual intercourse should be avoided for a period of up to six weeks. Side effects from the surgery should be gone after that time.
Less severe cases of benign prostatic hyperplasia can be treated with certain types of medication and even massage therapy. Many men will develop some degree of BPH during their lifetime, and regular prostate exams and knowledge of BPHs symptoms can enable early recognition and increase the comfort and health level of those diagnosed with benign prostatic hyperplasia.