Please note: This information was current at the time of publication. But medical information is always changing, and some information given here may be out of date. For regularly updated information on a variety of health topics, please visit, the AAFP patient education website.

Information from Your Family Doctor

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia: What You Should Know


Am Fam Physician. 2008 May 15;77(10):1413.

  See related article on benign prostatic hyperplasia.

What is benign prostatic hyperplasia?

Benign (say: bih-nine) prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH, causes your prostate gland to get bigger. The prostate gland makes semen.

Who gets BPH?

It usually happens in older men. It also runs in families.

What are the symptoms?

You may have problems urinating because the prostate gland surrounds your urethra, which carries the urine out of your body (see drawing).

It may be hard to start urinating, or you may not be able to urinate at all. You may have to go to the bathroom more often than normal.

How can my doctor tell if I have BPH?

Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms. You may need a rectal exam to see how large your prostate gland is and to check for cancer, which can also cause your prostate to get bigger. Your doctor may take a urine sample to check for signs of bladder or prostate disease.

How is it treated?

If the symptoms don't bother you, you may not need treatment. If the symptoms bother you, there are medicines that can help you feel better.

You may decide to have surgery. Your doctor can tell you what treatment is best for you.

Where can I get more information?

Your doctor

American Urological Association

Web site:

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Web site:

This handout is provided to you by your family doctor and the American Academy of Family Physicians. Other health-related information is available from the AAFP online at

This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.


Copyright © 2008 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
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