Prostate enlargement 


Prostate enlargement animation

Prostate enlargement or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is a common condition in older men. This animation explains what the prostate gland is and how it functions. It also highlights the importance of seeing your GP to check for prostate cancer.

Media last reviewed: 04/03/2014

Next review due: 04/03/2016

About the prostate

The prostate is located in the pelvis, between the penis and bladder, and surrounds the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the penis).

The prostate is involved in the production of semen. It produces a thick, white fluid that is made into a liquid by a protein called prostate-specific antigen (PSA). The liquid is then mixed with sperm, produced by the testicles, to create semen.

Prostate enlargement, also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia, is a common condition that affects older men. It is usually not a serious threat to health.

The prostate is a small gland found only in men, located between the penis and bladder (see About the prostate on this page).

If the prostate becomes enlarged, it can place pressure on the bladder and urethra, the tube through which urine passes. This can affect how you pass urine, because it may cause:

  • difficulty starting urination
  • a frequent need to urinate
  • difficulty fully emptying the bladder

These symptoms can range from mild to severe. See symptoms of prostate enlargement.

Many men worry that having an enlarged prostate means that they have an increased risk of developing prostate cancer. This is not the case. Men with prostate enlargement do not have a higher risk of prostate cancer compared to men without an enlarged prostate. 

How common is prostate enlargement?

Prostate enlargement is a common condition associated with ageing. Around 60% of men who are aged 60 or over have some degree of prostate enlargement.

The cause of prostate enlargement is unknown, but most experts agree that it is linked to changes in hormone levels in a man’s body due to ageing (see causes of prostate enlargement for more information).


Prostate enlargement is not usually a serious threat to a man’s health.

In some men, the symptoms are mild and do not require treatment. In others, symptoms can be very troublesome and have a major impact on their quality of life.

Complications of prostate enlargement can include urinary tract infections (UTIs) or acute urinary retention (AUR) but serious complications are rare. 

There are several treatments available for prostate enlargement, including:

  • lifestyle changes, such as avoiding alcohol and caffeine
  • medication
  • surgery

See treatment of prostate enlargement for more information.

Page last reviewed: 27/03/2013

Next review due: 27/03/2015


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The 8 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

gillcroft said on 15 November 2013

I am seriously frustrated and angry at the problems presented by urinary urgency. My disabilities do nothing to help, either. The time it takes me to reach the toilet is often - yes, often - far too long and it's not unusual for me to soak my clothing 2 or 3 times a day having failed to get to the toilet in time. I have resisted the obvious solution of wearing a 'bag', largely through coyness or embarrassment. I've even tried to minimise my fluid intake, but risk kidney problems in doing so.
When sitting (or lying) there is generally less of a tendency to urinate...but as soon as I stand up, I get very desperate, but sadly often don't reach the toilet in time. GP prescribed Vesicare (5 mg) but this only seems to 'work' for the first few hours of the day.
Should I try to persuade him to increase the meds so that I can get through the whole day without mishap?

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Duncombe said on 28 October 2013

I have been taking Finisteride for my enlarged prostate for getting on for 5 years and have recently been suffering from one of the listed side effects, namely; irritating and annoying itching to my face, scalp and neck. I have tried all the over-counter Antihystamines, all to no effect. I have now been prescribed Fexofenadine, which is also unaffective.
Can anybody recommend a solution, before I am driven insane by this infernal itch.
I like fresh ground coffee too much to give it up but, I did give up alcohol more than 8 years ago.

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Mak14 said on 02 October 2013

My father is 87 years old. He had an operation done about 15 years ago, however he has trouble passing urine it takes him about 30mins in the loo.

Is this related to reoccurrence of prostate?

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kirit121 said on 18 July 2013

after my operation, I have to go to loo every 1/4 to1/2 hour, and amount of water is 200ml, is this common,
i thought , I have to go loo after my bladder is full. and not every 1/2 hour, I just come out of hospital

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Heather64 said on 04 February 2013

My dad has an enlarged prostrate and offered TURP but is type 2 Diabetic.After being on tamsalosin for several years, he went into retention and was catheterised. After several weeks, they tried to remove the catheter and he went into retention again.
Is surgery the answer or staying with a catheter as he is diabetic and been told the muscles of his bladder may not work through diabetes and surgery might not work.He is 72

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User610150 said on 27 October 2011

A by-product of the drugs to alleviate the symptoms of
benign prostate enlargement can be erectile dysfunction. In the USA they are now pescribing Cialis which not only helps the symptoms of prostate enlargement but remedies the erectile dysfunction as well! Simple really but why is that not being offered in the UK?

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crooner said on 20 June 2011

This has put my mind to rest. All that I need to do now is see my GP.

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redman66 said on 03 June 2011

yes this was very helpful to me i weill not know untill 13/6/2011 wheather i have prostate gland trouble or not
i have to go to the toilet during the night about 3 times .
i will let people know if i have it on the 13/6/2011.

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Prostate health

Every man has one, it's important to their sex life, yet few men know anything about their prostate or what can go wrong with it