It may seem strange but for years men knew little if anything about their prostate and it is only in the last few years as prostate cancer has gained in prominence that men are beginning to ask just what the prostate is and what its function is.
The prostate is an important component of the male reproductive system which manufactures a clear fluid which makes up a significant portion of male seminal fluid. Sperm is transported from the testicles to the prostate where it is mixed with prostatic fluid to make semen.
A healthy prostate is approximately the size of a walnut, weighs about one ounce and is situated just below the bladder and in front of the rectum. It is also frequently described as being shaped like a donut and partly wraps around the urethra, which carries urine from the bladder and out of the body.
Through a man’s life the prostate grows, although from about the age of twenty until the mid-forties growth is very slow and to all intent and purpose undetectable. When a man passes approximately forty-five however it is normal for the growth of the prostate to speed up and most men will begin to experience the symptoms of an enlarged prostate during their forties or fifties.
In the majority of cases an enlarged prostate leads to little more than some mild discomfort which many men simply learn to live with. In some cases however the prostate may become sufficiently enlarged so that it squeezes the urethra enough to cause various symptoms which require treatment or persuade a man to ask for treatment to ease his discomfort. Simple growth of the prostate at this point in a man’s life is simply a normal part of aging and is called benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BHP.
However, the biggest danger with an enlarged prostate is that this might be more than just a case of enlargement and might be masking an underlying cancer.
When the prostate starts to grow it also starts to put pressure on the urethra and to narrow it so that the first signs of a developing problem are normally seen when it comes to urinating. In particular you might experience difficulty in passing water and need to ‘push’ in order to start the process. You might also experience a weak urine flow and a flow which tends to stop and start. After a while you will also find that you need to visit the bathroom more frequently, especially at night, and that you feel as if you need to visit the bathroom even just after you have just done so.
Understandably this can become more than a little bit of an irritation but, nonetheless, many men are content to simply see it as one of the inevitable problems of aging and learn to live with it. There is nothing wrong with such a decision but the mistake which far too man men make is to choose not to consult their doctor at this stage to ensure that their problem is just BPH and that it is not likely to result in other problems in their particular case.
Apart from the risk of the possibility of an underlying cancer present, BPH can also lead to other problems like bladder infections and kidney disease.
Should you start to experience symptoms which suggest a developing prostate problem then talk to your doctor so that the problem can be properly and treated.