Benign prostatic hypertrophy

A cross section through the prostate showing its relationship to neighbouring structures

A cross section through the prostate showing its relationship to neighbouring structures

Benign enlargement of the prostate, otherwise known as benign prostatic hypertrophy, or BPH for short, is the most common cause of prostate problems. It is a condition of normal ageing. The prostate simply becomes larger. Treatments are aimed at limiting its size. These may take the form of a surgical operation or medical treatment to reverse the effects of the hormones controlling the prostate’s growth. The surgical treatment of BPH is known as transurethral prostatectomy, or TURP. In this operation a tube is inserted through the penis along the urethra to clear away the physical obstruction.

The enlargement of the prostate is a process that takes place over many years. Medical treatment of BPH may allow delay to surgery for some years and, in many cases, reduce the need for surgery – alpha-blockers may increase flow of urine and 5a-reductase inhibitors (e.g. finasteride) may shrink the gland somewhat. Where medical therapy is not assisting the flow meaningfully, then surgery by TURP will lead to an improvement in flow in nearly all patients.

Your GP may give you medical treatment to ease the condition during the wait for a urological opinion.