Common prostate problems

The most common prostate problems are:

If you notice any changes when you urinate, this could be a sign of a problem in your prostate.

Urinary problems are common in older men and are not always a sign of a prostate problem. They can also be caused by an infection, another health problem such as diabetes, or some medicines.

Your lifestyle can also affect the way you urinate – for example, drinking a lot will make you urinate more often, while alcohol, caffeine, artificial sweeteners and fizzy drinks can make some urinary problems worse.

Changes to look out for

Changes to look out for include:

  • needing to urinate more often than usual, especially at night
  • difficulty starting to urinate
  • straining or taking a long time to finish urinating
  • a weak flow when you urinate
  • a feeling that your bladder hasn't emptied properly
  • a sudden need to urinate – you may sometimes leak urine before you get to the toilet
  • dribbling urine after you finish urinating.

Less common symptoms include:

  • pain when urinating
  • pain when ejaculating.

A small number of men get blood in their urine or semen*, or problems getting or keeping an erection. These symptoms aren't usually caused by a prostate problem, and are more often linked to other health problems.

*Blood in your urine or semen can be caused by other health problems. Talk to your doctor if you see any blood in your urine or semen.

Urinating: what is normal?

Most people urinate up to eight times each day, depending on how much they drink. And your bladder can usually hold around 300 to 400ml. But everyone is different.

If your bladder is working normally, you should know when your bladder is full and have enough time to find a toilet. You should empty it completely every time you urinate and you shouldn't leak urine.

Most people can sleep for six to eight hours without having to urinate more than once. This will be affected by how recently you had a drink and how much you drank before going to sleep. As you get older, you will probably need to urinate more often. You may wake up to urinate once in the early morning – this is common in older men.

What should I do next?

If you notice any of the changes we’ve talked about here or you’re worried about your risk of prostate cancer, visit your GP.

You can also call our Specialist Nurses, in confidence, on 0800 074 8383. They can help with any questions about prostate problems, even if you haven't yet spoken to your GP.

Urinary problems will often be caused by something else rather than cancer and there are treatments that can help.

What if I'm not registered with a GP?

You can find a GP near you on the following websites:

You can also ask family or friends who live near you for details of their GP. Or call NHS 111 to get non-emergency medical help.

What if I don't have time to see a GP?

It’s important to make time to see a GP if you’re worried about your health. Some GP surgeries are open in the evenings or weekends, so you should be able to see a GP or nurse at a time that is right for you. You can also ask for a phone appointment at some GP surgeries. There might also be an NHS walk-in centre nearby. Use the websites listed above to find one in your area. Or you can call NHS 111 if you need medical help but it isn’t an emergency.

What if I'm worried about going to the GP?

It is natural to feel worried or embarrassed about having tests and check-ups. But don’t let that stop you going to your GP. Remember, the tests give your GP the best idea about whether you have a problem that needs treating. You can ask to see a male doctor or a female doctor when you make the appointment. Or take someone with you. You can also talk things through with our Specialist Nurses.

References and reviewers

Updated: July 2019 | Due for Review: December 2021

  • List of references  

    • Chapple C, Abrams P. Male Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms (LUTS): Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms (LUTS): An International Consultation on Male LUTS. Société Internationale d’Urologie (SIU);2013.
    • Gacci M, Eardley I, Giuliano F, Hatzichristou D, Kaplan SA, Maggi M, et al. Critical Analysis of the Relationship Between Sexual Dysfunctions and Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms Due to Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia. Eur Urol. 2011 Oct;60(4):809–25.
    • Gravas S, Cornu JN, Gacci M, Gratzke C, Herrmann TRW, Mamoulakis C, et al. EAU Guidelines on Management of Non-Neurogenic Male Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms (LUTS), incl. Benign Prostatic Obstruction (BPO). European Association of Urology; 2019.
    • Kirby M, Chapple C, Jackson G, Eardley I, Edwards D, Hackett G, et al. Erectile dysfunction and lower urinary tract symptoms: a consensus on the importance of co-diagnosis. Int J Clin Pract. 2013 Jul;67(7):606–18.
    • Lukacz ES, Sampselle C, Gray M, Macdiarmid S, Rosenberg M, Ellsworth P, et al. A healthy bladder: a consensus statement. Int J Clin Pract. 2011;65(10):1026–1036.
    • National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. Lower urinary tract symptoms in men: assessment and management. NICE Clinical Guideline 97 [Internet]. (modified June 2015); 2010. Available from: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg97
    • Rees J, Bultitude M, Challacombe B. The management of lower urinary tract symptoms in men. BMJ. 2014 Jun 24;348(1):g3861–g3861.
    • Speakman M, Kirby R, Doyle S, Ioannou C. Burden of male lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) suggestive of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) - focus on the UK: Burden of male LUTS suggestive of BPH. BJU Int. 2015 Apr;115(4):508–19.

     

  • List of reviewers  

    • Bev Baxter, Clinical Nurse Specialist, University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust
    • Ben Challacombe, Consultant Urological Surgeon and Senior Lecturer, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, London
    • Jon Rees, GP, Tyntesfield Medical Group, North Somerset
    • Our Specialist Nurses
    • Our Volunteers.