BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia) is a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate gland which affects nearly all men as they age. The good news is that new drugs have dramatically reduced the need for surgery.

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The prostate sits just under the bladder and surrounds the urethra, the tube through which urine passes out of the body. As the prostate enlarges, it presses on the urethra like a clamp on a garden house, blocking the flow of urine.

Symptoms of BPH include:

  • Weak urine stream and difficulty emptying the bladder
  • Difficulty starting the urine flow and dribbling after finishing
  • Frequent urination especially at night
  • Urgent urination or leaking

See your GP if you have symptoms

Have a checkup if you are getting symptoms as other conditions, such as bladder stones or prostate cancer may be the cause.

If symptoms are mild, no treatment is needed. It may help to reduce evening fluids, especially alcohol and caffeine. For more severe cases, there are 2 types of medication available:

  1. ‘Alpha blockers’ relax the muscle in the ­prostate and bladder and usually improve symptoms within 1-2 weeks. They can cause dizziness, headaches and retrograde ejaculation (semen flows back into the bladder at orgasm).
  2. ‘5-alpha-reducatase inhibitors’ relieve symptoms by shrinking the prostate. They can take several weeks or months to work but may be used long-term. Some men get a reduced sex drive or weaker erections as a side effect.

The 2 types of drugs can also be taken ­together if needed for even greater effect.

Saw palmetto, a herbal remedy, is widely used for BPH. However, a recent analysis found no benefit when compared to placebo.

Surgery is available if medication is not ­effective but is now used much less often. The most common procedure is Transurethral Resection of the Prostate(TURP) which involves inserting a thin telescope into the penis and removing prostate tissue in small pieces. Side effects include retrograde ejaculation and impotence. Laser surgery is also used.



  • Please note this information was correct at time of publication.
  • For up to date information, speak to your doctor.
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