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5 Signs That Your Prostate Is Enlarged

November 02, 2023

Did you know almost all men will have an enlarged prostate at some point in their lives? Thanks to hormones and cell growth, it’s true.

“On average, an enlarged prostate may start when people are in their 40s. But, it can also happen as early as 30 or as late as 80,” says Michael Siev, MD, a urologist at the Tallwood Urology & Kidney Institute at Hartford Hospital. “While not everyone with an enlarged prostate will have symptoms, it’s important to treat if you do.”

Dr. Siev breaks down the top five signs of an enlarged prostate and how to manage it for that much-needed relief.

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What is an enlarged prostate?

Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is an enlarged prostate gland.

Ready for a quick anatomy refresher? The prostate gland surrounds the urethra – the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body. As men age, their prostate grows, and this growth might squeeze or partly block the urethra, which can cause problems with urinating.

But it’s not just size that can cause some complications.

“The shape of the prostate can drive a lot of symptoms,” says Dr. Siev. “It can grow outward where the prostate gets wider, but the urethra remains the same. Or it can grow inward and squeeze the urethra. It can also be a combination of both.”

> Related: Straight Talk from a Urologist About Enlarged Prostate, Men’s Health

5 signs of an enlarged prostate.

If your prostate is enlarged, you may experience symptoms or no symptoms – it all depends.

“Your symptoms will depend on the size and shape – and how both change over time,” explains Dr. Siev.

Here are five common enlarged prostate symptoms:

  1. Waking up more often at night to urinate.
  2. Feeling it’s more difficult to urinate, especially if you are straining or forcing it.
  3. Urinating more frequently.
  4. Having strong urges to urinate, which can come out of nowhere and you almost can’t hold it.
  5. Feeling like it’s difficult, or not possible, to empty your bladder.

“Blood in the urine is not a sign of an enlarged prostate,” Dr. Siev adds. “If you see blood, or are experiencing a lot of pain with urination, or can’t urinate, seek immediate medical attention.”

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Treatment isn’t always needed, but it can help.

Often, you don’t need treatment unless symptoms bother you or you have problems like backed-up urine, bladder infections or bladder stones.

“If you have symptoms, we first perform a series of tests to see the shape and size of your prostate to decide how to treat the issue best,” explains Dr. Siev.

Enlarged prostate treatment may include a combination of the following:

  • Lifestyle changes (i.e., less fluid at night) may help with frequent urinating.
  • Medication can relax the smooth muscle around the prostate in the neck of the bladder – helping open the urethra for urine to flow better.
  • Surgery for partial or complete removal of the enlarged prostate tissue can help improve function.

“Symptoms can get better on their own, but they usually get worse if you don’t do something about them. See your doctor if you start experiencing symptoms,” advises Dr. Siev.

An enlarged prostate is not the same as prostate cancer.

It’s important to know that an enlarged prostate is not a sign of cancer.

“Just because you have a big prostate doesn’t mean you have prostate cancer. And, conversely, just because you have a small prostate without any symptoms doesn’t mean you don’t have prostate cancer,” says Dr. Siev.

“If you’re a man between the ages of 55 and 69, have a conversation with your doctor about having a prostate cancer screening.”