Prostate problems are very common; unfortunately, most men will experience issues in their lifetime. If you find yourself unsure of what the prostate is, don't be embarrassed - you are not alone. Let us explain the prostate and some things to watch for to ensure you are healthy.
What is the prostate, and What Does it Do?
The prostate is a walnut-sized gland in between the bladder and penis. Because of the location, it is almost guaranteed that problems will arise if anything goes awry with this gland. Therefore, prostate issues are very common.
To get a bit technical, the urethra runs through the prostate from the bladder and out the penis, allowing men to urinate. Not only does the prostate aid in urinating, but it's also vital in reproduction. The prostate is responsible for squeezing fluid into the urethra that protects the sperm when men ejaculate.
Prostate Common Issues
Because of the functions of urination and ejaculation, these are likely the first two areas in which you may notice symptoms that something is not quite right. Common issues include:
Inflammation of the prostate is commonly caused by infection. There are two types; acute and chronic. Acute is more common. It is typically caused by an infection and treated with antibiotics. Symptoms may include:
- Pain, which may be severe, in or around your penis, testicles, anus, lower abdomen, or lower back
- Discomfort passing bowel movements
- Pain when urinating
- Feeling the need to urinate frequently (particularly at night)
- Problems starting or "stop-start" peeing
- Urgent need to urinate
Chronic prostatitis is less common, characterized by chronic pelvic pain, and can be caused by chronic inflammation.
Also called Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) affects almost all men over 50. Most cases will be asymptomatic. Symptoms typically include changes in urination, as the enlarged gland may constrict the urethra. This may include more difficulty starting the stream of urine, noticing a weaker stream of urine, a sensation of incomplete emptying of the bladder, leakage of urine, or getting up frequently overnight to urinate. There are medications available that can help alleviate these symptoms. When medications do not provide enough benefit, procedures may be performed to open up the flow of urine.
Blood in urine or semen may indicate that something more serious may be going on with your prostate. Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men (second to skin cancer) and is highly treatable when caught early. If you have symptoms or concerns, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible to get tested and diagnosed early. The PSA blood test can be checked as part of your evaluation. This test is elevated in prostate cancer but can also be elevated simply due to an enlarged prostate. A urologist would determine the next steps needed if the results are concerning.
Don't be Afraid to Talk to Your Doctor
Your doctor knows you, and they know the prostate. It's not embarrassing to discuss prostate health issues with your physician. If you are experiencing any issues, now is the time to discuss it with your doctor. Why feel discomfort when help is available?