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BPH Fact Sheet

Author: Cindy Resman, Public Relations
Source: Medtronic Media

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia
(Enlarged Prostate)

Basic Information

  • Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate that restricts the flow of urine from the bladder.1
  • There are two growth periods in a man’s life when the prostate enlarges. The first occurs early in puberty, when the prostate doubles in size. At around age 25, the gland begins to grow again. This second growth phase often results, years later, in BPH.2
  • In BPH, the prostate becomes enlarged to the point that it presses against the urethra like a clamp on a garden hose. The bladder wall becomes thicker and irritable.  Eventually, the bladder weakens and loses the ability to empty itself, so urine remains in the bladder. This “clamping” of the urethra and partial emptying of the bladder causes many of the symptoms associated with BPH.2
  • While a definitive cause of BPH has not been identified, factors that contribute to the condition include hormonal changes associated with aging and family history.1
  • BPH can be diagnosed by several means depending on the patient’s symptoms, including a digital rectal exam, the American Urological Association (AUA) Symptom Score, the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test, a urine flow study or rectal ultrasound.3

Key Statistics

  • BPH is the most common disorder of the prostate1 and is the most common diagnosis by urologists for male patients age 45-74.4
  • Half of all men in their 50s and 80 percent in their 80s, have some symptoms of BPH.3
  • Approximately 8.4 million men over age 50 in the United States are candidates for treatment of BPH:1,3,5
    • 3.0 million age 50 to 59
    • 2.6 million age 60 to 69
    • 2.8 million age 70 to 79
  • In eight out of 10 cases, symptoms relating to changes or problems with urination – including frequent urination; urgency, leaking or dribbling; and a hesitant, interrupted or weak urine stream – suggest the presence of BPH.2

Impact on Quality of Life1,2

  • While BPH is not life threatening, it reduces quality of life by causing discomfort, inconvenience, sleep disruption and embarrassment.
  • BPH can turn urination into a round-the-clock and agonizing experience.
  • Men with BPH describe being embarrassed at public urinals by their dribbling stream, and feeling trapped by the need to stay close to a bathroom at all times – limiting their freedom to live a normal life.
  • If left untreated, BPH can lead to other more serious medical conditions including urinary tract infections, bladder and kidney damage, bladder stones and incontinence.2

Symptoms of BPH include:

  • Frequent need to urinate
  • Sudden need to urinate
  • Interrupted sleep due to need to urinate at night
  • Weak, variable or dribbling stream
  • Need to strain or push bladder to urinate
  • Difficulty beginning urination
  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Sensation that bladder is not completely empty after urination

1. Issa M, Marshall F.  Contemporary Diagnosis and Management of Diseases of the Prostate.  3rd ed.  Newtown, Pa:Handbooks in Healthcare Co; 2005.
2. National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse Web site.  Available at:  Accessed March 18, 2006.
3. American Urological Association Education and Research, Inc.  Guideline on the Management of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH).  2003.
4. Contemporary Urology/Urology Times 2005 Fact Book. Prepared by Advanstar Medical Economics Healthcare Communications Secondary Research Services. 
5. United States Census Bureau. Available at:  Accessed March 18, 2006.