How well do you know your prostate?
Many men aren’t sure what their prostate is, what it does, or when to call a doctor if they think they might have a problem. So, information is the best tool you have in dealing with this aspect of men’s health.
What It Is
The prostate is a small gland that is part of the male reproductive system. A healthy prostate is about the shape and size of a walnut. It rests below the bladder and in front of the rectum. It surrounds part of the urethra and it helps make some of the fluid in semen.
Why You Should Care
As you age, your prostate can become larger. It’s a normal part of aging for most men. By the time you reach age 40, your prostate might have gone from the size of a walnut to the size of an apricot. By the time you reach 60, it might be the size of a lemon.
Because it surrounds part of the urethra, the enlarged prostate can squeeze that tube. This causes problems when you try to urinate. Typically, you won’t see these problems until you’re 50 or older, but they can start earlier. You might hear a doctor or nurse call this condition benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH for short. It is not cancerous.
Maybe It’s Prostatitis
Prostatitis is an infection or inflammation of the prostate; it’s not the same thing as BPH, though some of the symptoms are similar. It can affect men from their late teens well into old age. If you have recently had a catheter or other medical instrument put into your urethra, you have a higher chance of getting bacterial prostatitis. Some sexually transmitted diseases, such as chlamydia, may also cause ongoing infection and inflammation.
There are four types of prostatitis and symptoms include …
- Trouble passing urine
- Chills and fever
- Sexual problems
- Muscle aches
- Joint pain
- Pain around the base of your penis or behind your scrotum
- Lower back pain
- Feeling like you need to have a bowel movement
It's Not Uncommon
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), or an enlarged prostate, is common and cannot be prevented. Age and a family history of BPH are two things that increase the chances you might get it. If you have trouble starting to urinate or have to go a lot, especially at night, your prostate could be enlarged.
Other signs and symptoms may include:
- Your bladder doesn’t empty completely after you urinate
- You feel the need to go out of the blue with no sensation of build-up
- You may stop and start several times
- You have to strain to get any flow going
You should also know …
- Some 8 out of every 10 men eventually develop an enlarged prostate
- About 90% of men over the age of 85 will have BPH
- About 30% of men will find their symptoms bothersome
How Healthy Is Yours?
If you’re a man older than 40 and have not yet had a prostate exam, it’s a good time to talk to your doctor. If you’re also African American or have a family history of prostate cancer, it’s a really good time.
Knowledge Is Power
Prostate cancer is one of the five most common cancers in the world. Don’t let common myths stop you from getting the life-saving screening tests you need, when you need them.
Decrease Your Risk
There’s no guarantee that a man will never develop prostate cancer. But, we’ve found some tips you can use to improve your overall health … including the health of your prostate.