Lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) are categorized either as voiding (formerly called obstructive) or storage (formerly called irritative) symptoms. BPH is often, but not always, the cause of LUTS, especially the voiding symptoms. Other medical conditions, such as bladder problems, can also cause these symptoms.
Some men with BPH may have few or no symptoms. The size of the prostate does not determine symptom severity. An enlarged prostate may be accompanied by few symptoms, while severe LUTS may be present with normal or even small prostates.
Voiding (Obstructive) Symptoms
Voiding symptoms can be caused by an obstruction in the urinary tract, which may be due to BPH. (Obstruction is the most serious complication of BPH and requires medical attention.) Voiding symptoms include:
- A hesitation before urine flow starts despite the urgency to urinate
- Straining when urinating
- Weak or intermittent urinary stream
- A sense that the bladder has not emptied completely
- Dribbling at the end of urination or leakage afterward
Storage (Irritative) Symptoms
Storage symptoms, also referred to as filling symptoms, include:
- An increased frequency of urination (every few hours), particularly at night
- An urgent need to urinate and difficulty postponing urination
- Painful or burning sensation when urinating
Urinary retention (inability to void) is a serious symptom of severe BPH that requires immediate medical attention. Urinary retention can be a sign of obstruction in the bladder. Bladder obstruction can cause kidney damage, bladder stones, urinary tract infections, blood in the urine, and incontinence as urine dribbles out in small amounts.
Review Date: 07/20/2010
Reviewed By: Harvey Simon, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.