The prostate is located immediately beneath the bladder, and surrounds the urethra, the structure that brings the urine from the bladder to outside of the body. It is also located immediately in front of the rectum.
The prostate provides a portion of the fluid that makes up semen. A series of small tubes join together into larger tubes that bring the semen through the prostate and into the urethra through the ejaculatory duct. The exact role of the prostatic fluid is not known, although it plays a role in one’s reproductive capabilities possibly by helping sperm survive for a longer period of time within the vagina.
Most men are usually not aware of their prostate at all until a health concern arises. Various prostatic diseases characteristically effect men at different ages, but until a
prostatic disease becomes apparent, many men do not even know they have one And after some of the conditions that affect the prostate do arise, many men wish they never had one.
Prostatitis, infectious or inflammatory condition of the prostate, occurs at earlier ages and is normally found when men experience discomfort in the perineum (the area between the rectum and the testes). Other common symptoms can include discomfort urinating and urinary frequency, and if the prostatitis is acute, fever.
Prostate cancer is the entity that we read and hear so much about. It usually occurs in older men (50 and above); however, with the widespread use of PSA (prostatic specific antigen) testing as part of yearly physicals and prostate cancer screenings, the disease is now being detected at younger ages.
BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia) is the enlargement of the prostate that causes a compression of the urethra, and has a rising incidence after the age of 40. Studies have estimated that at approximately 50% of men will have BPH, and those chances rise to nearly 80% for men in their 70s.
Symptoms that occur as a result of BPH include a weak flow of urine, urinary frequency, nocturia (waking at night to urinate), incontinence, and recurring urinary tract infections. The extent of the patient’s symptoms, how bothersome the symptoms are to the patient and the patient’s co-existing medical conditions will dictate the treatment that needs to happen.
Many patients will opt to do nothing and practice "watchful waiting" if they are not terribly bothered by the symptoms. Others will choose medical therapy (medications) that will help to alleviate the symptoms. Other alternative treatments include various minimally invasive surgical options or traditional surgical procedures.