Get To 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 Does My Prostate Do?

It is a small gland that is part of the male reproductive system. It’s supposed to be about the shape and size of a walnut. It rests below your bladder and in front of your rectum. It surrounds part of the urethra, the tube in your penis that carries pee from your bladder. The prostate helps make some of the fluid in semen, which carries sperm from your testicles when you ejaculate.

This Gland Can Grow

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 pee. 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.

Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is cancer that occurs in the prostate — a small walnut-shaped gland in men that produces the seminal fluid that nourishes and transports sperm.

Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in men. Usually, prostate cancer grows slowly and is initially confined to the prostate gland, where it may not cause serious harm. However, while some types of prostate cancer grow slowly and may need minimal or even no treatment, other types are aggressive and can spread quickly.

Prostate cancer that’s detected early — when it’s still confined to the prostate gland — has a better chance of successful treatment.

Symptoms

Prostate cancer may cause no signs or symptoms in its early stages.

Prostate cancer that’s more advanced may cause signs and symptoms such as:

  • Trouble urinating
  • Decreased force in the stream of urine
  • Blood in semen
  • Discomfort in the pelvic area
  • Bone pain
  • Erectile dysfunction

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