An enlarged prostate exists when a physician determines that the size of the prostate has exceeded what is considered a normal range. Because the prostate may undergo a period of growth during the forties and fifties, it is not uncommon for a male to have an enlarged prostate. In many cases, the growth is limited and does not cause any real problems. However, an accelerated growth of the prostate can lead to a number of health issues and may also be an indicator of a more serious health risk.
Enlarged prostates usually do not develop earlier in life. After the mid-twenties, the average size of the prostate is roughly that of a walnut. However, changes in the balance between testosterone and estrogen in the male body may trigger a period of modest growth in men as they approach middle age. For many men, the slight growth does not produce any significant side effects or problems. However, it is important for men to have annual prostate exams after the age of forty in order to make sure this growth does not exceed certain limits.
When the enlarged prostate does not advance beyond an acceptable level and the prostate continues to function and appear to be healthy, the condition is referred to as benign prostate hyperplasia. While the prostate is now larger than in early adulthood, there is no evidence of infection or disease, and the male is not experiencing such problems as difficulty with urination or the appearance of blood in the urine. While enlarged, the prostate is not interfering with any bodily functions and simply should be monitored to ensure any future changes do not go unnoticed.
However, a severely enlarged prostate may be a sign of serious underlying health issues. These may include the presence of cancer in the prostate. This is why regular prostate exams are essential to maintaining good health after reaching the age of forty. By noting changes in the size and texture of the prostate, a physician can often identify the problem in its early stages and take proper action to contain and correct the problem.
While a moderately enlarged prostate is nothing to worry about, it is important to report any pains in the general area of the organ, along with changes in urination or the presence of blood to the doctor immediately. Men should also make it a point to have a prostate exam conducted on an annual basis or more often if recommended by a physician. By treating such conditions as prostitis or prostate cancer early, there is an excellent chance of enjoying a full recovery.