Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)

The prostate gland is part of the male reproductive system and is located below the bladder, in front of the rectum and surrounds the urethra (structure that carries urine from the bladder out through the penis). Normal prostate glands are about the size and shape of a walnut and weigh about an ounce. The main function of the prostate gland is to produce ejaculatory fluid. The prostate gland often enlarges with age, referred to as benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH. This condition can cause symptoms such as difficulty emptying bladder, need to urinate frequently, straining, post urination dribbling or weak stream. These symptoms are referred to as lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) and occur because the gland is enlarged and blocking the flow of urine.

BPH is a common condition, estimated to affect 50% of men in their 50s and up to 90% of men over age 80. In addition to increasing age, other risk factors include family history of BPH. BPH is not prostate cancer, although the conditions can exist together. Men should be evaluated by a clinician if experiencing BPH symptoms, as this is a progressive disease and can result in bladder damage, infection or kidney damage. BPH symptoms can be treated with oral medications used to decrease the size of the prostate (5-alpha-reducatase inhibitors) or to relax the muscles of the prostate and bladder neck (alpha blockers). Procedures such as transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP), microwave ablation, needle ablation or laser surgery may need to be performed.

Recent UCSF Urology papers on BPH:

Avins AL, Bent S, Staccone S, et al. A detailed safety assessment of a saw palmetto extract. Complementary therapies in medicine. Jun 2008;16(3):147-154.

Bent S, Kane C, Shinohara K, et al. Saw palmetto for benign prostatic hyperplasia. The New England journal of medicine. Feb 9 2006;354(6):557-566.

Shinohara K. Thermal ablation of prostate diseases: advantages and limitations. International journal of hyperthermia : the official journal of European Society for Hyperthermic Oncology, North American Hyperthermia Group. Nov 2004;20(7):679-697.


Urology Care Foundation: Management of BPH

Urology Care Foundation: Diagnosis of BPH

National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Prostate Enlargement: Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia

Patient Information