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Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia

If you’re a man and you’re having trouble urinating, I would advise you to get to your doctor without delay – but don’t assume the worst. While it’s important to be aware that prostate cancer is a serious danger that we men face in life, it could well be that what you’re suffering from is the very common condition of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).

The word ‘benign’ in benign prostatic hyperplasia, or prostate adenoma as it is sometimes known, should tell you that this is not usually life-threatening. It’s simply an enlargement of the prostate and it affects a lot of us as we get older.

In case you’re not sure of what the prostate is, it’s quite a large gland located between the penis and the bladder. Its function is to provide the white fluid that is mixed with sperm, from the testicles, to make semen. The prostate actually surrounds the urethra, which is the tube that carries urine from the bladder and out through the penis. When the gland becomes enlarged, it presses on the urethra and the bladder, and so affects urination.

We can’t be sure what causes BPH but it seems to be linked to natural hormonal changes as we age and most of us will experience it to some extent. The good news is that BPH does not in any way increase our chances of developing prostate cancer.

Symptoms can include:

  • Difficulty in starting to urinate
  • A weak or stop-start flow
  • The need to strain to urinate
  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Frequent waking at night to urinate
  • Sudden urges to urinate
  • Inability to empty the bladder fully
  • Blood in the urine (that’s particularly serious and needs immediate attention)


After diagnosing the condition, your doctor will be able to tell you whether you need to take medication for it and will arrange regular check-ups to keep it under observation. In very serious cases surgery may be needed.

For most of us, benign prostatic hyperplasia can be controlled through lifestyle changes. These may include:

  • Not drinking anything for an hour or two before bed
  • Drinking less coffee and alcohol – or cutting them out altogether
  • Taking regular exercise
  • Bladder training – under medical supervision – to increase your control
  • Experimenting with the time at which you take any medication you’ve been prescribed


Scientific evidence suggests that eating a healthy diet, rich in vegetables and protein but low in red meat and fat, can reduce the chances of developing prostate enlargement. The healthiest forms of protein include fish, soya, tofu, eggs, milk, cheese and chicken.

I for one will be bearing all of these lifestyle suggestions in mind, as they seem like very healthy changes whether or not you’re anticipating prostate trouble.