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The Prostate and the Man

What is a prostate?

The prostate is an organ the size of a ping-pong ball in the male reproductive system. It is located between the penis and the bladder.

What does the prostate do?

It is a gland, which is an organ that produces certain substances to perform different functions in the body. The prostate gland produces a fluid that mixes with sperms and fluids produced by other glands to form the semen.

Prostate fluid contains substances such as zinc, enzymes (a type of protein) and citric acid etc. After ejaculation, the semen helps the sperms to swim towards the egg for fertilisation and protects the sperms from bacteria etc.

While the prostate gland is not necessary for survival, it is necessary for fertility and reproduction.

Common diseases in the prostate

Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)

BPH occurs when the prostate gland continues growing and becomes too big. This causes the prostate to put pressure on the tube that allows urine to be passed out of the body, causing problems with urination.

It is common among men above the age of 60. Since the growth is benign, it is not linked to cancer and does not cause cancer.

Signs and symptoms:

  • Frequent/ urgent need to urinate
  • Frequent need to urinate at night
  • Difficulty starting to urinate
  • Weak urine stream or a stream that stops and starts
  • Dribbling at the end of urination
  • Inability to completely empty the bladder

Less common signs and symptoms include:

  • Urinary tract infection
  • Inability to urinate
  • Blood in the urine

Prostatitis

It is the swelling of the prostate gland. It can be caused by various reasons based on the type of prostatitis that occurs. Some reasons include bacterial infection and nerve damage to the lower urinary tract (prostate, bladder, urethra).

It is more common among men 50 years old and below.

Signs and symptoms:

  • Pain or burning sensation when urinating (dysuria)
  • Difficulty urinating such as dribbling or hesitant urination
  • Frequent need to urinate at night (nocturia)
  • Urgent need to urinate
  • Cloudy urine
  • Blood in the urine
  • Pain in the abdomen, groin or lower back
  • Pain in the perineum

A diagram of a male perineum

  • Pain or discomfort of the penis or testicles
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Flu-like signs and symptoms (if bacterial infection is the cause)

If you have pelvic pain, difficult or painful urination, or painful ejaculation, please see a doctor. If left untreated, some types of prostatitis can result in infections becoming worse or other complications.

Prostate cancer

It is one of the most common types of cancer, caused by the growth of a tumour in the prostate gland. Many prostate cancers grow slowly and stay in the prostate gland, where the harm is minimised. However, other types can be aggressive and spread quickly to other parts of the body.

Hence, if it is detected early , it is the best chance for successful treatment.

Signs and Symptoms:

In early stages, there may not be signs and symptoms. In advanced stages, signs and symptoms may include:

  • Trouble urinating
  • Weaker stream of urine
  • Blood in the urine
  • Blood in the semen
  • Bone pain
  • Losing weight without trying
  • Erectile dysfunction

Urinary tract infection

It is an infection in any part of your urinary system (your kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra). Most infections occur in the bladder and urethra.

UTI is caused by bacteria that enter the body through the tube that transports urine from the bladder to outside the body (urethra). When a male has BPH, their inability to completely empty their bladder may cause stagnant urine in the bladder to encourage bacteria growth , which results in urinary tract infection.

Signs and symptoms:

  • A strong, constant urge to urinate
  • A burning sensation when urinating
  • Frequent, small amounts of urine
  • Urine that looks cloudy
  • Urine that looks red, bright pink or brownish (a sign of blood in the urine)
  • Strong-smelling urine

For more information or if you require a medical consultation, please contact My Healthcare Collective here.