Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), also known as an enlarged prostate, is a common condition that may affect older men. As men age, the prostate gland tends to naturally increase in size. While this is a normal part of aging, it can lead to BPH in some individuals. Here’s how BPH and aging are related.
BPH is strongly associated with aging. While not all men will develop BPH, the risk increases with age. While it can start as early as the age of 40, it is more commonly diagnosed in men over the age of 50. By the age of 60, over half of men will have some degree of BPH, and by age 85, this number rises to almost 90%.
The development of BPH is related to hormonal changes that occur with aging, specifically changes in the balance of sex hormones. As men age, their levels of testosterone, the primary male sex hormone, remain relatively stable, but the levels of another hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) tend to increase. DHT is known to stimulate the growth of the prostate gland, leading to its enlargement.
The prostate gland, which surrounds the urethra, typically continues to grow throughout a man’s life. Changes in hormone levels and the natural growth of the prostate gland are key factors in the development of BPH. As the prostate enlarges, it can put pressure on the urethra, leading to symptoms such as difficulty urinating, increased frequency of urination, and a weak urine stream.
While not all men with an enlarged prostate will experience irritating symptoms, the likelihood of experiencing BPH-related symptoms increases with age. These symptoms can range from mild to severe. Some men may experience only minor inconvenience, while others might have more bothersome symptoms that significantly affect their quality of life. BPH symptoms tend to worsen over time, which is why it’s essential for older men to have regular medical check-ups to monitor their prostate health.
Left untreated, BPH can lead to complications such as urinary retention (the inability to urinate), urinary tract infections, and damage to the bladder or kidneys. These complications become more common with age.
Treatment options for BPH depend on the severity of symptoms and other factors, but they often include lifestyle modifications and medication or, in more severe cases, minimally invasive or surgical procedures. For individuals aged 65 and above, medications and minimally invasive treatments are often the preferred options. This is due to the fact that older patients may experience more complications and require a longer recovery period following surgery.