Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) – Enlarged Prostate

Benign prostatic hyperplasia is a very common condition in men. Unlike other organs in the body, the prostate gland continues to grow during every man’s lifespan. The prostate grows gradually after the age of about 50 and by the age of 70, approximately 8 out of 10 men have an enlarged prostate.

Symptoms of an enlarged prostate

Approximately one in three men will experience symptoms as a result of having an enlarged prostate gland. Most commonly, these symptoms will be:

  • A weak flow of urine and taking longer to empty the bladder
  • Hesitancy – having to wait at the toilet before the urine starts to flow
  • Problems emptying – feeling your bladder is not empty after you have been to the toilet
  • Frequency – having to pass urine more often than before, often needing to get up several times during the night

The prostate gland grows like a doughnut around the urethra, the tube or ‘water pipe’ through which urine flows. The affect of having an enlarged prostate is like a kink developing in a water pipe – it blocks the normal flow of water. Not everyone with an enlarged prostate will develop symptoms; it depends how the prostate presses upon the urethra and lower bladder. If left untreated, an enlarged prostate resulting in urinary symptoms can lead to infections and more rarely, kidney damage.

It is important to note that not all urinary symptoms in men are the result of an enlarged prostate. If you have blood in your urine or experience pain, it is important that you have a full assessment to check whether the problems may be caused by other prostate, bladder or kidney problems.

How is an enlarged prostate diagnosed?

  • A doctor may examine your prostate to feel how big it is. You may need to have blood and urine tests to check the function of your kidneys and rule out other potential problems, such as infection.
  • Specialists at Birmingham Prostate Clinic use a cystoscopy, a special telescope to examine the bladder.
  • You may be asked to have a urine flow test to assess the blockage and a scan to look at the prostate and the bladder.

How is an enlarged prostate treated?

Active monitoring

In some cases, it is best to monitor the patient and undertake regular assessments of the symptoms and their impact on the patient’s lifestyle. Immediate treatment may not be necessary; however it is important to assess the patient on a regular basis.


Medication can be used to relax the muscle tissue around the bladder and in most cases, there is some improvement within days, with full benefits evident by six weeks. Patients may experience side-effects and different combinations of medicines are often used to ensure the greatest benefit. It is therefore critical that the medication is managed by a specialist in prostate disorders.


The Birmingham Prostate Clinic is highly experienced in GreenLight laser surgery for BPH, having treated more than 1000 patients. GreenLight laser surgery is an effective, minimally-invasive treatment, recommended by NICE and is the treatment of choice for BPH in America. Compared with the traditional TURP procedure, Greenight laser treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia results in much reduced blood loss, minimal pain and quicker recovery.

Birmingham Prostate Clinic is currently carrying out a large study of patients who had have GreenLight laser surgery, as part of our commitment to continuously assessing, auditing and publishing the results of the procedures we carry out.

In this article, understanding the different treatment options for the enlarged prostate, consultant urologist Alan Doherty explains the best way to approach the growing choice of treatments in this area.

“With GreenLight laser we suddenly had a treatment that could deliver reliable and effective treatment safely.”
Mr Alan Doherty, Consultant Urologist, Birmingham Prostate Clinic