What Causes an Enlarged Prostate?

What Causes an Enlarged Prostate?

by Alex Hirsch (SU)

The prostate is a muscular gland in the male reproductive system that surrounds the urethra and sits below the bladder. It produces most of the fluid found in your semen.

The prostate can become enlarged particularly as a man ages, and the enlargement causes uncomfortable urinary symptoms. This condition is known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), which essentially translates to harmless (noncancerous) enlargement of the prostate.

Benign prostatic hyperplasia, or an enlarged prostate, usually occurs when the prostate gland cells begin to multiply, and so the organ becomes enlarged. Because the gland surrounds the urethra, this enlargement can block the normal flow of urine out of the bladder.

When left untreated and undiagnosed, an enlarged prostate can cause kidney, urinary tract, and bladder problems. It is important to note that benign prostatic hyperplasia is not related to prostate cancer and does not necessarily increase the risk of developing cancer. However, it can negatively impact a man’s quality of life and cause physical and social discomfort.

What Causes Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia?

The enlargement of the prostate usually starts to develop in midlife and continues to grow as a man gets older. Doctors consider natural prostate enlargement to be part of the normal process of aging for men, but some men who suffer from BPH will require surgery to alleviate the painful symptoms.

An enlarged prostate directly affects a man’s urinary function. Some of these effects include:

  • A frequent need to urinate
  • Weak urine stream
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Problems in starting or stopping urination
  • Intense and sudden urges to urinate

How an Enlarged Prostate Is Diagnosed 

There are several tests a urologist can perform in order to accurately diagnose an enlarged prostate. Some of these examinations include the following: 


A urinalysis means that you will need to provide a urine sample so the laboratory can test for infections or other problems. The doctor will then review the lab results and will rule out bladder infection or cancer, which can cause similar symptoms as those of an enlarged prostate.

PSA Test

This test aims to monitor the level of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in the patient’s blood, which is usually used to check for prostate cancer. However, a man’s PSA level may also be an indicator of an enlarged prostate. The doctor will take the results of this test in combination with other tests to determine BPH.

Urodynamic Test 

This is a group of diagnostic tests which are performed to check the performance and condition of the bladder and urethra. It measures the urinary flow and bladder pressure to evaluate problems such as urine control issues.

This diagnostic test can help a doctor diagnose enlargement of the prostate. It can also be a good indicator of the severity of the symptoms, which can influence which treatment is recommended by the urologist.

Skilled Urologist in Phoenix

Board-certified urologist Dr. Desi Avila is one of Phoenix’s leading men’s health specialists and is committed to providing the best healthcare for his patients. If you are looking for a complete evaluation and effective treatment of prostate issues or other men’s health conditions, make an appointment with Ironwood Urology. 

Contact us today by calling (480) 961-2323 or fill out our online appointment request form. We look forward to partnering with you and helping you enjoy a healthy and active lifestyle.