The prostate is a tiny organ in males that lies over the urethra and below the bladder. Despite its small size, it performs various functions for a man. The prostate produces prostatic fluid which is an essential component for semen and it is also important in the production of male sex hormone testosterone. Problems with the prostate can lead to urinary issues as well as affecting a man’s sexual life.
- Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia
Benign Prostatic hyperplasia or more commonly known as BPH, is a condition that affects almost all men to varying degrees as they age. BPH basically means the prostate enlarges and causes urinary issues as it compresses the urethra close to it. Common symptoms for men with BPH include: an urgency to urinate and yet having difficulty or needing to “squeeze” with a lot of effort and having a very weak stream of urine with dribbling near the end. Most men will ignore these symptoms as they often are not serious enough to affect their lifestyle, however untreated BPH can potentially lead to complications like urinary tract infections, urinary retention with increased risk of urinary stone formation and even bladder or kidney damage over time due to increased pressure in the urinary system.
The approach to BPH involves a doctor taking a detailed history together with an examination which would include a digital rectal exam. Blood and urine tests would have to be performed as well. Certain special tests like uroflow test, urodynamic studies and ultrasound of the prostate might also be required. Treatment recommendations for medications or surgical procedures would be based on the results of the examinations and tests.
Prostatitis refers to the inflammation of the prostate and is sometimes misdiagnosed and mismanaged. There are 4 different types of prostatitis namely, acute bacterial prostatitis, chronic bacterial prostatitis, chronic pelvic pain syndrome and asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis. Prostatitis is commonly linked to urinary tract infections, urinary tract stones and urinary retention and incomplete emptying of the bladder.
This condition can sometimes cause frightening symptoms like blood in the sperm, painful ejaculation and pain in the penis and pelvis. Often there would be urinary symptoms as well like urgency and pain on urination. If left untreated, prostatitis can worsen to form prostate abscesses or worsen to cause widespread infection in other parts of the body.
The approach to prostatitis is very similar to BPH which involves a doctor taking a detailed history together with an examination which would include a digital rectal exam. Blood and urine tests would have to be performed as well. Certain unique imaging tests like ultrasound or MRI of the prostate might also be needed. Treatment recommendations would depend on the results of the tests.