Is It Really BPH? Clues from Your Medical History


Some reports indicate that as many as 30 percent of men who undergo surgery for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) have symptoms that were caused by something other than enlarged prostate.

A medical history helps doctors identify conditions that can mimic BPH, examples include:

  • Urethral stricture. Strictures can result from urethral damage caused by trauma, catheter insertion, or an infection such as gonorrhea and chlamydia.
  • Bladder cancer, bladder stones, or bladder infection. A history of blood in the urine suggests bladder cancer, whereas pain in the penis or bladder area may indicate bladder stones or infection.
  • Neurogenic bladder (problems with holding or emptying urine due to a neurological disorder). Neurogenic bladder is a possible diagnosis if a man has diabetes or a neurological disease such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, or stroke, or if he has experienced a recent deterioration in sexual function.
  • Overactive bladder. Another condition that can sometimes be confused with BPH is overactive bladder (OAB). The most common OAB symptom is a sudden strong urge to urinate that can’t be ignored.

A thorough medical history includes questions about previous urinary tract infections and prostatitis. The doctor will also ask about the use of over-the-counter and prescription medications (particularly cold or sinus medications), nutritional supplements, and herbal remedies. Some of these products can either worsen or improve symptoms of BPH.