The vast majority of men will suffer from prostate problems at some stage during their lives and all too many men will die from prostate cancer. Indeed, with the sole exception of skin cancer, prostate cancer kills more men than any other form of cancer. It may come as something of a surprise to learn therefore that, although things are beginning to change slowly, most men have little or no idea about just what this very important part of our anatomy does.
The prostate gland is located in the lower abdomen and sits just below the bladder and between the pubic bone and the rectum. A healthy prostate is roughly the size of a walnut and weighs about one ounce in a fully grown man. One important point to note is that the prostate gland is shaped something like a donut and partially surrounds the urethra, which is the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the penis and on out of the body.
The prostate gland has a very important role to play as one part of the male reproductive system. Attached to the prostate are a number of seminal vesicles which produce a protein and this is then mixed with a clear liquid produced by the prostate, and referred to as prostatic fluid, to form the male semen. Sperm produced in the testes are carried through connecting tubes to the prostate and are then mixed with the seminal fluid before being ejaculated during orgasm through ejaculatory ducts which are connected to the urethra.
The prostate gland grows rapidly during puberty and is essentially fully formed in most men by about the age of twenty five. However, at this stage it does not stop growing as you might imagine but continues growing very slowly throughout the remainder of your life. Later in life however, and typically at some point after the age of about forty-five, hormonal changes which are part of the normal ageing process can result in a slight ‘speeding up’ in the growth of the prostate gland.
As a result, once you pass the age of forty-five you begin to run the risk of your now enlarging prostate beginning to cause a series of problems. For most men sufficient enlargement to cause symptoms does not occur until after the age of sixty and some men will never experience a problem at all. Nevertheless, all men are at risk of developing problems after the age of about forty-five.
The first signs of a problem are normally seen when urinating as, because the prostate gland partially surrounds the urethra, its enlargement slowly starts to pinch and thus narrow the urethra interfering with the free flow of urine out of the body. As the prostate continues to grow and enlarge further so it squeezes more and more on the urethra and urinary problems worsen over time.
This enlargement is simply a normal part of the ageing process and for most men the problems which it causes are nothing more than a nuisance and do not require treatment. For other men however urinary problems will become sufficiently annoying to warrant treatment and there are several treatment options available today. Overall though this problem is really nothing to worry about and is certainly not a life-threatening condition.
The real problem however lies in the fact that, alongside this normal growth, you may well also be developing prostate cancer and one reason why this remains such a killer today is that most men are unaware of a developing cancer and simply put any symptoms down to normal prostate enlargement.
Unfortunately there is no way to tell whether or not you have a developing prostate cancer without being medically tested for the condition and so, prostate problems should never simply be ignored and, at the first sign of any difficulty, you should consult your physician.