The prostate is part of a man’s sex organs. The prostate gland is part of the male reproductive system. Its secretions help nourish the sperm and aid fertility. The gland is about the size of a walnut that surrounds the urethra. The urethra is the tube that carries urine and semen out of the body. The prostate adds fluid to the semen when you ejaculate.
In development of the prostate, newborn boys prostate is about the size of a pea. It grows very slowly until puberty. Then it doubles in size in a dramatic growth spurt. When a man reaches his 40s it begins to increase in size again. Various hormones control its growth and function. The most important is the male sex hormone, testosterone.
Causes of prostate problems
For men under 50, the most common prostate problem is prostatitis. Prostatitis means the prostate might be inflamed or irritated. If you have prostatitis, you may have a burning feeling when you urinate, or you may have to urinate more often. Or you may have a fever or just feel tired.
Inflammation in any part of the body is usually a sign that the body is fighting germs or repairing an injury. Some kinds of prostatitis are caused by, tiny organisms that can cause infection or disease. If you have bacterial prostatitis, your doctor can look through a microscope and find bacteria in a sample of your urine. The doctor can then give you anantibiotic, a medicine that kills bacteria. But usually no bacteria are present and doctors will look for other possible causes of urinary symptoms, such as a kidney stone or cancer.
For men over 50, the most common prostate problem is prostate enlargement. This condition is also called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Older men are at risk for prostate cancer as well, but this disease is much less common than BPH. More information about prostate cancer is available from the National Cancer Institute.
If you’re a man and over 50 and have started having problems urinating, the reason could be an enlarged prostate, or BPH. As men get older, their prostate keeps growing. As it grows, it squeezes the urethra. Since urine travels from the bladder through the urethra, the pressure from the enlarged prostate may affect bladder control.
If you have BPH, you may have one or more of these problems
- A frequent and urgent need to urinate. You may get up several times a night to go to the bathroom.
- Trouble starting a urine stream. Even though you feel you have to rush to get to the bathroom, you find it hard to start urinating.
- A weak stream of urine
- A small amount of urine each time you go
- The feeling that you still have to go, even when you have just finished urinating
- Leaking or dribbling urine
- Small amounts of blood in your urine
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