What is BPH?

Half of men over the age of 60 will develop benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH. Though BPH is common, it isn’t something you have to live with.

A man’s prostate gland produces a special fluid to protect sperm. Over time — and because of chemical changes in the body — the prostate gland can become enlarged. An enlarged prostate is called benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH. 

BPH can cause urinary problems in men. That’s because the prostate gland wraps around the urethra — the tube that carries urine out of the bladder. 

Symptoms and diagnosis

Symptoms of BPH

BPH symptoms can be embarrassing, but they should not be ignored. Without proper treatment, BPH can lead to bladder dysfunction or kidney failure.

BPH symptoms include:

  • Dribbling after urinating

  • Inability to urinate 

  • Frequent urination

  • Incomplete emptying of your bladder

  • Incontinence

  • Pain with urination or bloody urine 

  • Slowed or delayed start of your urinary stream

  • Straining to urinate

  • Strong and sudden urge to urinate

  • Waking up frequently at night to urinate

  • Weak urine stream

Diagnosing BPH

To diagnose BPH, your doctor will conduct a physical examination and blood or urine tests. You may also need a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. This is a blood test to check for increased PSA levels. High PSA levels are linked to Prostate Cancer.

Treatments and research

Treating BPH

For many men, BPH symptoms can be managed with medication. If medication doesn’t work for you, your doctor may recommend surgery. Surgery is performed to remove prostate tissue that is blocking the urinary tract.  

Tests to find the cause and type of your condition

UW Health offers the latest minimally invasive surgical treatments for BPH. These include:

This is a transurethral procedure where surgeons use small implants to lift and hold the enlarged prostate tissue out of the way and increase the opening of the urethra.

Surgeons insert a device into your urethra to remove prostate tissue. Your urethra is the tube that carries urine from the bladder.

Developing new treatments for BPH

We are always seeking improved treatments for BPH. To do this, urology experts at UW Health and the University of Wisconsin conduct laboratory research and clinical trials. Learn more about our urology research program


Preventing BPH

BPH self-care

BPH cannot be prevented, but there are things you can do to manage symptoms. 

Caffeine and alcohol cause your body to get rid of water. This can make you urinate more often.

Some medicines make urination difficult. These include many over-the-counter allergy medicines and decongestants. Check with your doctor to determine which medicines are safe to take.

To “double void,” urinate as much as you can, relax, then urinate again.

Meet our team

Expert care

Our providers


A leader in urology care

The urology team at UW Health offers advanced BPH treatment at University Hospital in Madison. 

Patient and support services

More ways we can help

Understanding BPH and BPH surgery

Achieving success one patient at a time

UW Health Urology is recognized as a top national program for providing new and effective approaches to treatment. Although we do thousands of complex procedures every year, the care we provide you is the most important.

Learn more