BPH is mostly caused by changes in the structure and function of the prostate gland that occur with aging. The prostate is a tiny gland placed beneath the bladder and ahead of the rectum. It encircles the urethra, the tube that transports pee from the bladder to the penis.
Several factors contribute to the development of BPH:
- Aging: The risk of developing BPH increases with age. It is a common condition in older men, and by the age of 60, a significant percentage of men may have some degree of prostate enlargement.
- Hormonal Changes: Changes in hormonal balance, particularly an increase in the levels of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a form of testosterone, play a role in the development of BPH. DHT is thought to contribute to the growth of prostate cells.
- Family History and Genetics: There is evidence to suggest a genetic component to BPH. If a man has a family history of prostate enlargement, he may be at a higher risk.
- Ethnicity: Studies have shown variations in the prevalence of BPH among different ethnic groups. For example, men of African descent may have a higher risk of developing BPH compared to men of Asian descent.
- Lifestyle Factors: Certain lifestyle factors may influence the development or progression of BPH. These include obesity, lack of physical activity, and diet high in fat and red meat.
While the exact cause of BPH is not fully understood, it is likely a combination of these factors. BPH is a non-cancerous condition, but it can cause bothersome urinary symptoms due to the enlargement of the prostate and the resulting compression of the urethra. If a man is experiencing symptoms suggestive of BPH, such as difficulty urinating, frequent urination, or a weak urine stream, it’s important to consult with a healthcare provider for proper evaluation and management.