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Enlarged Prostate

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One of the most common men's health issues associated with aging is an enlarged prostate. If you’re noticing bothersome issues with urination, your prostate could be the problem.

Trust us to comprehensively evaluate and treat any symptoms caused by your enlarged prostate because we offer the region's only truly comprehensive men's sexual and reproductive health services through all stages of your life. Our urology services are also repeatedly ranked among the nation's best by U.S. News & World Report.

What Is Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)?

Your prostate is a small gland in your reproductive system that produces fluid in your semen. As you age, changes in your hormone balance cause your prostate to grow. 

Your urethra, which is the tube that carries urine from your bladder out of your body, runs through the center of your prostate gland. If your prostate becomes too big, it may squeeze or block urine flow, causing a variety of problems with urination. This condition is called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or an enlarged prostate.

BPH is very common in men over 50. It is not a cancerous condition or a risk factor for cancer, but it can affect your quality of life.

When to See a Doctor

You should see a doctor if you are experiencing any problems with urination. Common symptoms of an enlarged prostate include frequent urination, incontinence, difficulty starting and stopping urination, nighttime waking to urinate (nocturia) and pressure or pain while urinating.

Your primary care physician can diagnose and prescribe medications to treat mild BPH. If medications do not alleviate your symptoms, you should consider seeing a men’s health specialist for comprehensive evaluation and treatment.

Diagnosing BPH

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Your men's health specialist at UC San Diego Health conducts a comprehensive evaluation when you come to us with concerns about an enlarged prostate, including cancer screening, to offer you the most effective treatment plan. Your provider will ask you detailed questions about your symptoms, past health issues and any medications you take, as some can worsen BPH symptoms.

You will also have a physical exam, including and a digital rectal exam and a urine test. Because symptoms of prostate cancer and an enlarged prostate are similar, we usually recommend a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test to rule out prostate cancer. If needed, you may also have:

  • Ultrasound imaging to see how much urine is left in your bladder after you urinate
  • Urinary flow test to measure the strength of your stream
  • Cystoscopy to see inside the bladder and rule out other conditions that could block normal urine flow, such as bladder stones 

Comprehensive BPH Care

Your care team will personalize your care plan based on the severity of your symptoms, the shape and size of your prostate, where the enlargement is interfering with urination, and your sexual and overall health, including your risk of bleeding. Your UC San Diego Health urologist will carefully listen to your concerns and preferences and talk to you about what treatments are best for you.

We offer medical therapy, nonsurgical approaches and surgical interventions, including minimally invasive, robotically assisted and open surgery to offer you a full range of treatment options.

Transurethral Resection of the Prostate (TURP)

TURP is a common and highly effective surgical procedure to remove prostate tissue that is restricting normal urine flow. TURP allows your surgeon to remove more prostate tissue than other procedures. This has advantages for some men.

UroLift System

With the UroLift system, your surgeon does not remove prostate tissue but instead implants permanent sutures in the prostate that widen the channel around the urethra. Read about the minimally invasive and innovative UroLift approach.

Holmium Laser Enucleation of Prostate (HoLEP)

The Holmium laser is a surgical laser used to remove prostate tissue that is blocking urine flow through the prostate. The HoLEP approach is a treatment option for severe prostate enlargement.

GreenLight Photoselective Vaporization

This is a relatively new type of laser therapy in which your surgeon uses high-energy beams of light to melt away prostate tissue interfering with normal urination.  

Rezum Water Vapor Therapy 
In this minimally invasive approach, steam is injected into the prostate to shrink tissue surrounding the urethra.  

Prostate Artery Embolization (PAE) 

Prostate artery embolization is another minimally invasive approach, in which tiny spheres are released into the prostate arteries to reduce blood flow to the gland. UC San Diego Health is among the first medical centers in the region to offer this non-surgical BPH treatment. Read the UC San Diego Health news release on prostate artery embolization.

About BPH

For more general information about BPH and BPH treatments from our Health Library, see: