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Conditions InDepth: Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)

The prostate gland is walnut-sized organ. It sits just under the bladder, in front of the rectum. The prostate surrounds the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder to outside the body. BPH is the growth of the prostate, which has nothing to do with cancer. It is one of the most common health issues for men over 50 years old.

The Prostate Gland
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The prostate grows throughout life. In some men, it grows large enough to cause problems. An enlarged prostate can squeeze the urethra. It narrows the path for urine to flow through. This can change the urge to urinate and frequency. For some men, these problems will be minor.

BPH can also make it hard to fully empty the bladder. Urine in the bladder increases the risk of infection. Sometimes these infections can cause serious illness, especially in older men. Large amounts of retained urine can also back up into the kidneys. This can lead to chronic kidney disease or kidney failure.


American Urological Association (AUA) Practice Guidelines Committee. AUA guideline on management of benign prostatic hyperplasia. Available at: Accessed September 21, 2020.

Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Accessed September 21, 2020.

Pearson R, Williams PM. Common questions about the diagnosis and management of benign prostatic hyperplasia. Am Fam Physician. 2014;90(11):769-774.

Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrienne Carmack, MD