The prostate gland (the prostate) is an organ of the male reproductive system. It is about the size of a walnut and is found at the base of the bladder. The thin tube that allows urine and semen to pass out of the penis (the urethra) runs through the prostate gland. Alkaline fluid produced by the prostate gland helps to nourish sperm and leaves the urethra as ejaculate (semen). The prostate undergoes two main growth spurts. The first is fuelled by the sex hormones made by the testes during puberty. This prompts the prostate to reach an average weight of 20 grams. The second growth spurt begins when men are in their thirties.
Here are some examples of non-cancer prostate problems:
Benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH, is very common in older men. It means your prostate is enlarged but not cancerous. Treatments for BPH include:
Watchful waiting also called active surveillance. If your symptoms are not too bad, your doctor may tell you to wait to see if they get worse before starting treatment. Your doctor will tell you how often to return for check-ups.
Medications. Medicines can help shrink the prostate or relax muscles near your prostate to ease symptoms.
Surgery. If nothing else has worked, your doctor may suggest surgery to help urine flow.
Other treatments. Sometimes radio waves, microwaves, or lasers are used to treat urinary problems caused by BPH. These methods use different kinds of heat to reduce extra prostate tissue.
Acute bacterial prostatitis usually starts suddenly from a bacterial infection. See your doctor right away if you have fever, chills, or pain in addition to prostate symptoms. Most cases can be cured with antibiotics. You also may need medication to help with pain or discomfort.
Chronic bacterial prostatitis is an infection that comes back again and again. This rare problem can be hard to treat. Sometimes, taking antibiotics for a long time may work. Talk with your doctor about other things you can do to help you feel better.
Chronic prostatitis, also called chronic pelvic pain syndrome, is a common prostate problem. It can cause pain in the lower back, in the groin, or at the tip of the penis. Treatment may require a combination of medicines, surgery, and lifestyle changes.
Be sure to talk with your doctor about the possible side effects of treatment.
The three most common types of prostate disease are:
- Benign prostatic hyperplasia
- Prostate cancer
Symptoms of Prostate Problems
See your doctor right away if you have any of these symptoms:
- Frequent urge to urinate
- Need to get up many times during the night to urinate
- Blood in urine or semen
- Pain or burning urination
- Painful ejaculation
- Frequent pain or stiffness in lower back, hips, pelvic or rectal area, or upper thighs
- Dribbling of urine
Diagnosis of prostate disease
Prostate disease is diagnosed using a variety of tests, including:
- physical examination, including digital rectal examination (DRE), where the doctor inserts a gloved finger into your rectum to check the size of your prostate
- blood test for prostate specific antigen (PSA test; discuss this with your doctor)
- mid-stream urine (MSU) tests to look for infection or blood in the urine
- ultrasound scans and urinary flow studies
- biopsies of the prostate.