In rare occasions, an enlarged prostate can crowd nearby structures. This can obstructing the bowel, affect bowel movements, and cause constipation.

The prostate gland is part of the male reproductive system that wraps around the urethra at the neck of the bladder. The urethra is the tube that carries urine from the bladder through the penis and out of the body.

The prostate grows larger as males age and can cause benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), or mild prostate enlargement that does not relate to cancer. BPH is the most common prostate problem for males over 50 years of age.

An enlarged prostate can cause urinary symptoms, but constipation is a much rarer complication. If a person is constipated, it may worsen the other symptoms of an enlarged prostate, such as urinary frequency and urgency.

This article discusses the connection between an enlarged prostate and constipation and options for treatment and prevention.

Learn more about prostate problems.

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Constipation rarely has links to an enlarged prostate. BPH is more likely to cause urinary symptoms, such as difficulty with starting urinating, a stop-start flow, urinary urgency, and incontinence.

However, because the prostate, bladder, and rectum are close together, a problem with one may cause secondary problems elsewhere.

For instance, constipation may be due to a swollen bladder. A 2018 study described the rare case of a 67-year-old man with abdominal pain, urinary retention, and constipation. Doctors discovered that the root cause of these symptoms was an enlarged prostate gland.

The National Institute for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) explains that as the prostate grows, it can pinch the urethra. The bladder walls thicken, and the bladder is unable to empty completely. A distended bladder can push into the colon and cause bowel obstruction, leading to constipation.

Could prostate cancer cause constipation?

In rare cases, metastatic prostate cancer may cause constipation and other symptoms, such as low back pain.

A 2022 article describes the case of an 82-year-old man with an enlarged prostate who was experiencing chronic constipation. He also reported experiencing stomach pain, lower back pain, and numbness. Diagnostic tests revealed that prostate cancer had spread to his spine.

Learn more about constipation.

Constipation does not directly harm the prostate but may worsen BPH symptoms. If the rectum is full, it may press on the bladder, causing urinary urgency, frequency, or incontinence.

Doctors may prescribe medications that shrink or slow the growth of the prostate or reduce BPH symptoms.

According to a 2018 article that outlines drugs for BPH, constipation is not a typical side effect of these medications. The most common side effects involve sexual dysfunction, such as erectile dysfunction and reduced libido.

Treatment for constipation involves changing what a person eats and drinks to make stool softer and easier to pass. The NIDDK advises that people can:

If diet and exercise changes are ineffective, a healthcare professional may recommend using an over-the-counter (OTC) laxative to encourage bowel movements. Types of OTC laxatives include:

If OTC constipation treatments are ineffective, a doctor may recommend the following treatments:

  • prescription medications
  • biofeedback therapy to retrain the muscles that control bowel movements
  • surgery to correct a blockage in the colon

Read about 13 natural remedies for constipation.

As the prostate grows with age, it may cause problems for some people. An enlarged prostate typically affects urinary function and may lead to constipation. However, this is rare, and constipation is likely to have other causes.

Doctors can perform tests and examinations to diagnose and treat the causes of constipation in people with an enlarged prostate.

Treatment for constipation includes diet and exercise changes and OTC laxatives. Doctors may recommend prescription medications or biofeedback therapy if these treatments are ineffective.