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What is benign prostatic hyperplasia, and does it cause incontinence?

Though awareness about the prostate has increased dramatically over the past 20 years, there are still a surprisingly large number of men who don’t know what this walnut-sized wonder does—or why it’s important to take good care of it. An essential part of the male reproductive system, the prostate gland helps to make semen. It sits below the bladder and surrounds the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder and out through the penis.rnrn rnrnAs suggested earlier, a healthy prostate should be about the size of a walnut. But as men age, the prostate can grow in size—a 40-year old man’s prostate might be the size of an apricot, and a 60-year-old might find his approaching the size of a lemon! The condition is called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), and it affects eight out of 10 men. As you might imagine, any extra mass in the delicate area near the bladder and urethra can affect bladder control—so it’s important to seek treatment at the first sign of symptoms, which include:rnrn rn

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  • Straining while urinating
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  • Frequent nighttime urges
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  • Failure to empty bladder
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  • Sudden urges to urinate
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  • Frequent stopping/starting
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rn rnrnA prostate exam is typically part of your annual physical exam—maybe not your favorite part, but an essential one. If it is determined that you have benign prostatic hyperplasia but are not yet experiencing any symptoms, your doctor may prescribe one or more treatment drugs to shrink the gland and alleviate your symptoms. You may also be asked to make lifestyle changes, such as changes to your diet and limiting caffeine, alcohol and nighttime fluid intake. Following these suggestions can help you maintain a healthy prostate, or minimize the effect your benign prostatic hyperplasia might have on bladder control as you age.

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