In both ageing men and women, there is an increasing incidence of lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) which are increasing. These infections have many possible causes, including smooth muscle dysfunction, neurological factors and benign prostatic hyperplasia. Up to 15% to 25% of men aged 50-65 years have LUTS of sufficient severity to interfere with their quality of life. Although benign prostatic hyperplasia is an important cause of these symptoms, and can have serious consequences, clinicians should be aware of these other causes so that the appropriate diagnosis is made before invasive treatments are started. New medical treatments, including alpha-adrenergic blocking agents and 5 alpha-reductase inhibitors mean that many men without complications such as infection, bleeding, or chronic retention, and with mild to moderate symptoms, should be managed in primary care. Combined local protocols between primary and secondary care will help to establish which men with persistent symptoms or complications need referral for a urological opinion to determine the need for further investigation and more invasive forms of management. We review the pathophysiology of the disease, and current approaches to investigation and management of this common problem.