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What Men Need To Know About The Prostate Gland

Men are often uncomfortable talking about prostate issues. Consequently, you may not know where or what it is or its role in the male body. You might only hear about it in relation to older men having difficulty urinating.

So in this article, we´re going to provide a few basic details about this important gland, how it changes as we age, and some of the problems it can cause.

What is the job of the prostate gland?

The walnut-sized prostate gland has various functions, including making the fluid that nourishes sperm. It also helps regulate urine flow and has a role in hormone production.

Where is the prostate gland located?

The prostate sits between the bladder and the penis. It surrounds the neck of the bladder and the urethra (the tube that transports urine from the bladder).

Is an enlarged prostate a sign of cancer?

No. An enlarged prostate is an increase in its size. The medical term for this is benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). 

BPH is common in men over the age of 50, and it is not a precursor to cancer. Other causes of an enlarged prostate are acute and chronic prostatitis. This is an infection of the prostate caused by the same bacteria that cause bladder infections, such as E.coli and Proteus.

What is a gland?

A gland is a group of cells, also referred to as a secreting organ, which makes substances in the body, such as hormones.

What is the structure/anatomy of the prostate?

Scientists categorize the prostate into four zones surrounding the urethra. Think of it like the layers of an onion.

Are there any long-term risks of BPH?

If not treated, BPH can lead to other medical issues. For example, if the bladder isn’t emptying completely, there is a risk of developing urinary tract infections. Other problems can include blood in the urine, bladder stones and urinary retention.

How does a doctor detect an enlarged prostate?

Usually, by performing a digital rectal exam. The doctor will insert a gloved finger to check the part of the prostate nearest the rectum. You may also have a blood test to measure PSA (prostate specific antigen) levels. Raised PSA levels might indicate a problem with the gland, but not necessarily cancer.

How does an enlarged prostate develop?

The prostate gland is about the size of a pea when boys are born and slowly increases in size until puberty. Then there is a dramatic growth spurt in which it doubles in size. During a man´s forties, the gland increases in size again. Numerous hormones control or regulate the size of the prostate, including testosterone, the male sex organ.

What causes an enlarged prostate?

Scientists don´t really know, but there are two factors that increase the risk of having an enlarged prostate - age and hormone levels. Some studies have also shown that obese men and men with diabetes are more likely to develop an enlarged prostate.

Am I more likely to get prostate cancer if I have an enlarged prostate?

No. BPH does not increase your risk of getting cancer and is not life-threatening.

What are the common symptoms of BPH?

The most common symptom is difficulty passing urine. Consequently, you may experience:

What are the treatment options for an enlarged prostate?

Medicines - such as alpha-blockers that relax prostate muscles to improve the functioning of the urinary system. Phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE5) inhibitors may also be prescribed, which relax urinary tract muscles to relieve symptoms of BPH.

Lifestyle changes - such as limiting the intake of alcohol and caffeine, doing pelvic floor muscle exercises, reaching and maintaining a healthy weight, limiting spicy foods and exercising regularly.

Surgery - such as transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP).

Minimally invasive procedures - such as prostate artery embolization (PAE). It is an outpatient procedure that involves the release of microscopic plastic beads into the arteries that supply blood to the prostate gland. This reduces the amount of blood reaching the prostate, and consequently, it shrinks, bringing symptom relief.

Can BPH be prevented?

At the moment, scientists don’t think there´s any surefire way to prevent BPH. That being said, some studies indicate that losing weight and exercising may prevent the condition.

When should I seek treatment for BPH?

You should seek treatment if you are experiencing BPH symptoms that affect your quality of life. These include losing sleep because you need to urinate during the night or not being able to urinate.

Contact MINT Today

At the Midwest Institute for Non-surgical Therapy, we perform prostate artery embolization on an outpatient basis. If you have an enlarged prostate and what to know more about your condition and how we can help you, contact MINT today and schedule a consultation at one of our 5 clinics, including our latest in Chicago, IL.



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