Complications of prostate enlargement  

Benign prostate enlargement can sometimes lead to complications, such as a urinary tract infection or acute urinary retention.

Urinary tract infections

If you're unable to empty your bladder properly, there's a risk that bacteria in your urinary system won't get flushed out and will spread through the urine to cause a urinary tract infection (UTI).

Symptoms of a UTI include:

  • cloudy, bloody or bad-smelling urine
  • pain in your lower abdomen (tummy) 
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • shaking and chills
  • a high temperature of 38C (100.4F) or above 

UTIs can be treated with antibiotics. A single UTI isn't usually serious, but repeated UTIs can damage your kidneys and bladder. If you have a history of repeated UTIs, you may need to have surgery.

Acute urinary retention

Acute urinary retention (AUR) is the sudden inability to pass any urine. AUR should be treated as a medical emergency, because without prompt treatment urine may be passed back up into the kidneys, which can damage them.

Symptoms of AUR include:

  • the sudden inability to pass urine
  • severe lower abdominal pain
  • swelling of the bladder that you can feel with your hands

Go immediately to your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) department if you experience the symptoms of AUR. If possible, ask a friend or relative to drive you there, otherwise phone for an ambulance.

AUR can be treated using a thin tube (catheter) to drain the urine out of your bladder. In very serious cases, surgery may be required to empty the bladder.


Page last reviewed: 03/03/2015

Next review due: 31/03/2017