The prostate is a small organ below the bladder that surrounds the tube that carries urine away from the bladder (urethra). It produces some of the fluid in semen that nourishes and protects sperm during intercourse and forms the bulk of ejaculate volume.
Enlargement of the prostate is fairly common as men get older, but this does not pose a problem for the majority of men over 50 years. In some cases, an enlarged prostate can cause urinary problems, by pressing on the urethra. This condition may also cause dribbling after urination or a frequent urge to urinate, which becomes worse at night. This is known as Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia or BPH.
Prostatisis is another prostate condition that results in inflammation of the gland. Prostatisis is sometimes caused by an infection and symptoms often include painful urination. Acute Prostatisis is an infection of the prostate caused by bacteria. Symptoms may include fever, chills, painful urination, or pain in the lower back and between the legs. If you suspect that you may have this condition it is critical that you see a doctor who will usually prescribe an antibiotic to assist in healing the infection and relieve the symptoms.
Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer among men and if detected early can be successfully treated. The best way to catch prostate cancer early is to be aware of the signs:
Frequent urge to urinate
Traces of blood in urine or semen
Dribbling of urine
Erectile dysfunction or painful ejaculation
Persistent pain in your lower back, upper legs or hips
Elevated PSA count (Prostate Specific Antigen blood test)
Should you experience any of these symptoms, book an appointment with your doctor right away. Early detection is the key to prostate cancer survival!
What to expect at a prostate examination
It is recommended that men between the ages of 40 and 75 go for an annual prostate examination. During a prostate screening, your doctor will test your Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) level through a simple blood test. This test will measure a protein produced by the prostate gland. If the number is high, there is greater chance you might have prostate cancer, but this could be due to a current infection. A physical exam is then completed and will include a rectal exam to check the size, shape and texture of your prostate. If your PSA levels are high or the rectal examination is abnormal your doctor may refer you to an urologist. It is common practice for the urologist to recommend a biopsy, which involves the taking of tissue samples from the prostate gland and examining them under a microscope.
Once a diagnosis is made your urologist will discuss the many treatment options available.