ASK DR.K: P is for Prostate

Updated: Mar 11

Dear Dr. K, I've started having to get up at least once a night, sometimes more often, to pee. What's the deal?


Augusta P. Nightly

Getting up at night to urinate (nocturia) is usually a symptom of an enlarged prostate. The medical term is benign prostatic hypertrophy or BHP. There are other causes such as drinking caffeinated or alcoholic beverages late in the evening. Prostate infections (prostatitis) also causes symptoms of frequency and nocturia, But these are self-limited events and conditions. BPH is a chronic, ongoing issue, often worsening over time. About 50% of men over sixty may develop symptomatic enlargement of the prostate. It is a non-cancerous condition.


The prostate is a walnut-shaped gland that sits at the base of the urinary bladder. Fluid secreted by the prostate is the primary component of semen. The urethra, which carries urine, passes through the middle of the gland. As the gland enlarges, the urethra is constricted, impeding the flow of urine. This makes the bladder have to squeeze harder to pass the urine. The bladder wall thickens and is able to hold smaller volumes of urine. This leads to more frequent trips to the bathroom.

What causes the prostate to enlarge? Current medical thought