Urinary problems are not a result of aging, but of prostate enlargement as men age.
As a maturing man who is approaching 50 years old, I personally have had time to truly empathize with many of my patients. Most men confuse the onset of urinary symptoms and worsening lower urinary tract symptoms as the normal aging process.
The good news is that what many men consider a part of aging can be reversed. For example, it is not part of the normal aging process for men to get up during sleep and need to urinate. Having a hard time starting the stream (hesitancy), a weak stream, and feeling like the bladder isn’t empty are also not part of the normal aging process.
WHAT IS NORMAL
The urinary process starts from the kidneys, the pump that makes the urine, filtering the blood and releasing urine, which is composed of water and electrolytes and waste products from the body.
The urine passes from the kidneys to the bladder by small tubes called ureters. The bladder has the main function of storing the urine until we are ready to eliminate it.
When a person wants to urinate, the bladder will squeeze and the urinary muscles will relax. If the urinary tract outlet, which we call the bladder outlet, is normal, the urine will start right away and the flow will be quick; the bladder will empty, and the flow will stop quickly as the bladder empties.
WHAT HAPPENS WITH AGING
Men can develop trouble emptying the bladder for many reasons, but the majority of the time the problem is the prostate. The prostate is a donut-shaped organ that connects the bladder with the urethra. Its opening is called the prostatic urethra and is the main cause of blockage for the aging male. As the prostate enlarges (also known as BPH or Benign Prostate Hyperplasia), it can become larger on the outside, which does not affect urination that much, but more importantly can grow on the inside, which causes blockage and forces the bladder to squeeze and work harder to pass urine.