If you are having trouble urinating, are bothered by a weak or intermittent urinary flow, and you are a man over age 50, you could have benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), or an enlarged prostate. If you experience these symptoms, make an appointment with your urologist.

Normal urination is essential to normal body functioning, and only a urologist will be able to determine why things are not working right. Here’s a run-down on what to expect when you go to the doctor’s office. 

Information Needed to Diagnose an Enlarged Prostate 

When you go to your appointment, bring information on your current symptoms, as well as a written record of your past medical problems. 

You should also bring a complete list of all prescription and over-the-counter medicines that you are taking to see whether they are related to your symptoms. Certain drugs may interfere with urination. Over-the-counter medications, such as allergy and decongestant medicines, may prevent you from urinating. Other drugs that can make your symptoms more severe are opioids and anticholinergics. 

Finally, tell your doctor if you have a history of alcohol use. Alcohol can also interfere with urination.

Tests That Can Diagnose BPH

The following tests are sometimes used to diagnose BPH, but not all of them are always necessary. Your urologist will discuss with you which of these might be helpful in your case.

  • The American Urological Association (AUA) BPH Symptom Index
  • Urodynamic testing
  • Uroflowmetry
  • Pressure flow studies
  • The post-void residual (PVR) urine study

Ruling Out Prostate Cancer 

If you have symptoms of BPH, your doctor might also test for prostate cancer. An early examination is important because only a comprehensive exam will determine whether you have BPH, which is a benign condition, or whether you have prostate cancer, which is best to diagnose early. Important tests for detecting prostate cancer include a digital rectal examination and prostate-specific antigen test.

It is important to recognize that a high PSA reading alone does not mean that you have cancer. An elevated PSA could be a sign of a number of conditions, including BPH, or prostatitis, an inflammation of the prostate. There is no evidence that prostatitis and BPH cause cancer, but it is possible for a man to have one or both of these conditions and to develop prostate cancer as well.

If You Are Diagnosed With BPH 

Taken together, these tests will help your doctor determine whether you have BPH and if you do, how severe it is. If you have BPH, your doctor should provide you with information on whether simply monitoring your symptoms is a reasonable option, or whether treatment is a better option.

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