Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia: Care Instructions

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Location of prostate below bladder, with detail of urethra in normal prostate and narrowed urethra in enlarged prostate.

Your Care Instructions

Benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH, is an enlarged prostate gland. The prostate is a small gland that makes some of the fluid in semen. Prostate enlargement happens to almost all men as they age. It is usually not serious. BPH does not cause prostate cancer.

As the prostate gets bigger, it may partly block the flow of urine. You may have a hard time getting a urine stream started or completely stopped. You may have a weak urine stream, or you may have to urinate more often than you used to, especially at night. Most men find these problems easy to manage.

You do not need treatment unless your symptoms bother you a lot or you have other problems, such as bladder infections or stones. In these cases, medicines may help. Surgery is not needed unless the urine flow is blocked or the symptoms do not get better with medicine.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Urinate as much as you can, relax for a few moments, and then try to urinate again.
  • Sit on the toilet to urinate.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol. These drinks will increase how often you need to urinate.
  • Many over-the-counter cold and allergy medicines can make the symptoms of BPH worse. Avoid antihistamines, decongestants, and allergy pills, if you can. Read the warnings on the package.
  • If you take any prescription medicines such as muscle relaxants, pain medicines, or medicines for depression or anxiety, ask your doctor or pharmacist if they can cause urination problems.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You cannot urinate at all.
  • You have symptoms of a urinary infection. For example:
    • You have blood or pus in your urine.
    • You have pain in your back just below your rib cage. This is called flank pain.
    • You have a fever, chills, or body aches.
    • It hurts to urinate.
    • You have groin or belly pain.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • It hurts when you ejaculate.
  • Your urinary problems get a lot worse or bother you a lot.

Where can you learn more?

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.