Recognising Your Problem
What are the symptoms of BPH?
Lower urinary tract symptoms are a sign of BPH. You can assess and track how severe your symptoms are using the International Prostate Symptom Score (IPSS) or assess how they affect your life by keeping a diary. If you have any concerns or think you might have BPH, speak to a healthcare professional.
Can the symptoms of BPH be caused by anything else?
If you are suffering from urinary symptoms, you should talk to your doctor who will be able to determine if they are due to BPH and not another condition.
Other conditions or treatments can cause similar symptoms to BPH9:
- A urinary tract infection or some sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can make you need to pee more often or feel pain when you pee. If you have an STI, there may also be some discharge from the penis. Common STIs include gonorrhoea and chlamydia. Other, non-sexually transmitted infections can also cause urinary symptoms. Infections can be treated with antibiotics.
- Certain medicines, including some antidepressants, antihistamines (e.g. for hay fever) and decongestants, can cause urine retention, where you can't pee. Talk to a healthcare professional about the side-effects of any medicines you're taking, and make sure you read the leaflet that comes with the medicine.
- The urethra can become narrowed even without obstruction by the prostate, leading to a weak urine flow and dribbling.
- Diabetes can make you need to pee more often, because the body needs to get rid of excess sugar.
- Advanced prostate cancer can often cause similar symptoms to BPH. Although early prostate cancer generally has no symptoms9, early diagnosis will help to ensure you have a much better chance of successful treatment.
- Bladder or bowel cancer may cause lumps in the abdomen that can press on the urethra and lead to obstructive symptoms (weak flow, dribbling, etc).
- Penis problems, such as phimosis, where the foreskin is tight and can't be pulled back from the glans of the penis, can cause problems when you pee. There may be a poor stream of urine that sprays in different directions.
- Heart failure can make you need to pee at night.
- Problems with the nerve supply to the bladder can lead to incontinence, where you can't get to the loo in time, or problems emptying the bladder fully.