What is the prostate and where is it located in the body?
The prostate is a small gland found only in men and it is located just below the bladder. It surrounds the urethra – the tube that carries urine out of the body. The prostate gland is normally the size and shape of a walnut. The prostate gland is important to a man’s sex life and produces a thick, white fluid that mixes with sperm to form semen. The prostate can sometimes become swollen or enlarged and issues with prostate health become more common in older males.
What medical conditions can occur with the prostate?
There are three main issues that may occur with the prostate: an enlarged prostate, prostatitis or prostate cancer. The chances of experiencing prostate problems increase with age, with over one third of all men over the age of 50 experiencing some prostate enlargement. Prostatitis is inflammation of the prostate usually caused by a bacterial infection and it is more common in men aged 30 to 50 years. Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in men and the risk of prostate cancer increases with age and family history.
What are the symptoms of prostate problems?
It is difficult to tell the difference between prostate cancer and prostate enlargement as the symptoms can be very similar. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, talk to your doctor. Symptoms of prostate problems include:
- needing to urinate often, especially at night
- difficulty starting to urinate
- straining to urinate or taking a long time to finish
- pain when urinating or during sex
Other less common symptoms include:
- pain in the lower back
- blood in the urine
How to maintain prostate health?
Prostate screening is an individual decision and should be discussed with your family doctor. There are many factors to consider including past medical history, age and family history. There are some actions that can promote and maintain prostate health. Some helpful hints include:
- drink eight or more glasses of water per day
- take warm baths
- remain sexually and physically active
- urinate as soon as you get the urge – avoid letting your bladder get too full
- manage stress
Awareness of the prostate and its effect on men’s health is a key step in understanding the common but rarely discussed medical conditions that can occur with the prostate. September is Prostate Cancer Awareness month, look out for educational and health screening events in our community. Click here to view Thrive. our health and wellness programme.