Enlarged Prostate and Your Bladder

An enlarged prostate – also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) – is the most common cause of bladder problems in men as they mature.

Typically, the prostate gland continues to grow in adult life making BPH common in men over the age of 50. As the prostate gland continues to get larger, it impacts the bladder and can press the urethra, limiting or blocking the flow of urine.

With an enlarged prostate and narrow urethra, limitations to completely empty the bladder or urinary retention can cause uncomfortable urinary symptoms from mild to life-threatening. This can affect men in different ways but ultimately there are two types of urinary retention:

  1. Chronic urine retention

    This develops over time and symptoms are not always obvious. People with chronic urinary retention can urinate but cannot completely empty the urine from their bladders. With the pressure from the urine left inside the bladder, the bladder muscle can slowly stretch and become weak.

    Symptoms such as trouble urinating, frequent urination, or leaking urine, are indicators to speak with a healthcare professional about symptoms and possible treatments. Chronic urinary retention can cause serious health problems and shouldn’t be ignored.

  2. Acute urine retention
    More significant, uncomfortable, and potentially life-threatening, acute urinary retention, is a serious condition that should be addressed with a healthcare professional right away. Acute urinary retention includes symptoms such as severe abdominal pain and the inability to urinate.

Taking control of your symptoms

Not all men need treatment for BPH. Treatment options usually depend on symptoms, age, overall health, and the prostate size. Options for treatment can range from adjustments in life style to medications, to medical procedures, or surgery. Recommendations from a healthcare professional may also include the use of an intermittent catheter.

Using an intermittent catheter to regularly and fully empty the bladder may help avoid urinary retention symptoms or complications. Self-catheterization can provide many men who have an enlarged prostate with the control they want over their bladder symptoms.

Speaking with a healthcare professional is most important to discuss what options may be best for you.

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