What is Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia?

Benign prostatic hyperplasia (often referred to by its abbreviation, BPH) is enlargement of the prostate gland that commonly occurs as men age. BPH is not prostate cancer, and it will not spread. Many men are affected; in fact, approximately 80% of men have symptoms of BPH by the age of 80 years.

The urethra carries urine from the bladder to the tip of the penis. An enlarged prostate gland can limit your ability to pass urine because it affects the size of the urethra. If you imagine your prostate as a donut, the urethra would be the hole in the middle. If the donut increases in size, the donut hole gets smaller.

If left untreated, BPH can lead to:

  • Hematuria (blood in the urine)
  • Incontinence
  • Stones
  • Infection
  • Inability to urinate with damage to the bladder
  • Damage to the kidneys

If you have symptoms of BPH, it’s important that you seek treatment from a urologist to prevent kidney damage and other serious conditions. BPH can be treated with medicine, surgery or other procedures. At Northwestern Medicine, we offer multiple treatment options that we can tailor to each patient’s needs.