Causes of enlarged prostate

Medically Reviewed by Dr Sravya, MBBS, MS 


causes of enlarged prostate

The actual causes of enlarged prostate or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) are still unknown. Did you know that all men over 40 years of age undergo some amount of growth in the prostate gland? Enlarged prostate is an age-related condition seen in some men. The prostate is a small accessory gland the size of a walnut and is a part of the male reproductive system. This gland produces some of the fluid that carries sperm during ejaculation as part of the male sexual response. It is located below the urinary bladder and surrounds the urethra, a tube that drains urine. 

As the name suggests, it means the prostate gland grows bigger as the age passes, pressing against the urethra and causing difficulties in urinating and other associated complications. This condition is not a risk factor for cancer or a precursor to cancer. Now, here, let’s see in depth about the benign prostatic hyperplasia causes, diagnosis, treatment as well and prevention.

Table of Contents

What do you mean by an enlarged prostate gland or benign prostatic hyperplasia?

To understand the causes of an enlarged prostate gland, it’s vital to know about the prostate gland functions and its adjacent structures. Benign enlargement prostate adenofibromyomatous hyperplasia benign prostatic hypertrophy or benign prostatic obstruction is an age-related condition occurring when the non-cancerous prostate cells start to grow abnormally. This will begin to squeeze the urethra and often makes it harder for men to urinate. This obstruction further leads to other complications such as urinary tract infections, kidney or bladder stones and so on.

The prostate is an accessory gland that produces some fluid that forms the substance that is emitted during ejaculation called semen. This fluid is alkaline in nature which helps to neutralize the acidity in the vaginal canal and prolongs the lifespan of sperm. The prostate has two main growth periods in men as they age. One occurs at the time of puberty when they double in size. The other period begins around 25 years of age and continues to grow gradually as they age. It becomes a problem only until it’s large enough to pinch the urethra, leading to one complication to another.

What are the causes of an enlarged prostate gland?

What causes prostate enlargement is still unknown. It is found to have more likelihood of having it as you get older. 90 per cent of men over 80 years old have this condition. 

The hormones produced in the bodies are very powerful enough to cause a wide range of effects on our cells and organs. According to researchers, the causes of prostate gland enlargement are stated as some theories. One theory suggests that anyone with a prostate, when he gets older, increases the production of a hormone called dihydrotestosterone, which stimulates the growth of the prostate gland. Another theory says estrogen and testosterone play a vital role in prostate gland enlargement. At a young age, men produce more testosterone and small amounts of estrogen. But when they get older, the testosterone levels decrease, and there will be more estrogen in the body. This relative increase in the proportion of estrogen stimulates the growth of the prostate gland, leading to prostate gland enlargement.

It is also noticed that men who have undergone the removal of testicles do not develop benign prostatic hyperplasia. Also, the removal of testicles after the development of prostate enlargement causes the prostate to shrink in size.

You may have a greater risk for benign prostatic hyperplasia in the following conditions:

What are the signs and symptoms of an enlarged prostate or benign prostatic hyperplasia?

There are many symptoms shown by people with an enlarged prostate gland. Most of them are related to problems in urinating and bladder and kidney problems. Benign prostatic hyperplasia causes the following 

You might need to visit your physician suddenly if the following symptoms are experienced:

How to diagnose the enlarged prostate or benign prostatic hyperplasia?

The condition is diagnosed after a detailed medical history, examination, certain tests, and scans. 

What are the treatment options for an enlarged prostate?

There are various treatments available for enlarged prostate. The treatment will depend on your symptoms, health conditions, age, and the size of the prostate. Your doctor may suggest lifestyle changes, medication, or even surgery, depending on your condition. 

Lifestyle changes are usually suggested if you have mild symptoms. Some lifestyle changes may help you in resolving the symptoms.

A single medication or a combination of medications can help you if you have mild to moderate symptoms related to an enlarged prostate. These medications work by

When the medication doesn’t work, many other types of procedures are available to help you improve the moderate to severe symptoms of BPH. In those procedures, an instrument is inserted into the urethra to :

When other treatments haven’t helped, or other complications have occurred, surgery is the final option, which may be helpful when symptoms are severe. Different surgeries usually performed are to:

Can you prevent enlarged prostate or benign prostatic hyperplasia?

The simple answer to the question is no, you cannot prevent an enlarged prostate as it is an age-related condition. The prostate gland will grow in size gradually in every man. Maintaining a healthy weight, decreasing the fluid intake before bedtime, decreasing the consumption of alcohol and caffeinated drinks, taking a balanced diet to avoid excess calories, and being physically active will be some good steps for a healthy prostate. Lifestyle alone cannot prevent benign prostatic hyperplasia. People who have enlarged and don’t want to go for conventional medication and surgery to reduce the symptoms can follow lifestyle changes, which might help them in some ways.