The prostate. That old men’s mystery that still remains something a bit unknown to a lot of people. But as the old saying goes, they key to maintaining good prostrate health is to inform yourself (I can’t be the only one who has heard of this, right? Wink*) so let’s get to some informing, wink*.
To begin with, you must know the prostate is a gland, a part of a men’s reproductive system. Contrary to some other men’s reproductive parts (he he), it’s actually quite small, about the size of a walnut. Location? Below the bladder and front of the rectum; it surrounds part of the urethra as well. Function? It helps with the creation of semen; when ejaculation occurs, it carries sperm to the testicles.
Ok, so you know as one ages some other things change? The prostate is no exception. As a man grows older, the prostate can get larger (again, contrary to other body parts, wink*). It can be about the size of an apricot when a man is 40, or even a lemon when they are 60! Now, that is some serious growing, right? The thing is, as the prostate surrounds part of the urethra, an enlarged prostate can squeeze it. As you may imagine, this can cause problems with the passing of urine. Usually these problems happen after a man reaches 50 (although it may happen earlier, so don’t get confident about it!)
When this process occurs, experts refer to it as BPH. It’s actually incredibly common (about 8 out of 10 men experience it) and cannot be prevented. In order to maintain good prostate health, it’s important for men to get checked up frequently (and a prostate massage every once in a while doesn’t hurt! Wink*), especially if they start to experience some symptoms. Some of the symptoms of this disorder are:
- Urinating frequently (especially at night) and having trouble doing so.
- Sensation of a full bladder after urinating.
- Having to stop and then starting to urinate again.
- Sudden urges to urinate.
Now, if a man already suffers from it but there are no troublesome symptoms, they can just go for a yearly check up. If BPH is causing trouble, sometimes, making some changes to one’s lifestyle can help as well, things like limiting alcohol and caffeine before sleeping and medication work well. In some extreme cases, surgery may be needed in order to help with it (it’s all for the best!).
On the other hand, men can also experience prostatitis (women can also have a bunch of health related issues, so don’t get fussy pal, wink*). Although the name sounds scary, prostatitis is nothing more than the inflammation or infection of the prostate. And keep in mind it can happen to anyone, from teens to men well into their golden years, so it’s important to be careful. It’s not contagious or sexually transmitted (no worries there, wink*)… Just be careful, because some STD’s (like chlamydia) can cause chronic prostatitis. The upside is, prostatitis usually gets cured with a dose of antibiotics. Some symptoms?
Now that you know some of the problems that may occur with this gland, it’s important you know some tips in order to maintain good prostate health:
- First, a doctor can check it up during a rectal exam (nothing to be scared you guys!) They will feel the prostate, looking for any changes in size, lumps and firmness (it lasts about 5 seconds, seriously wink*)
- During a PSA blood test, a protein produced by the prostate gets measured. If it’s elevated, it may indicate cancer. Other reasons why it may be elevated? Prostatitis, enlarged prostate? Don’t be scared tough, because low levels may also indicate cancer, so it’s important never to assume anything (an important advice here and in life in general, wink*) and just discus the results with your doctor.
- A prostate biopsy may be done in men with high PSA levels or other symptoms of cancer. During this procedure, tissue samples of the prostate gland is taken and then gets tested to see if there are any problems with it.
Like I said before, knowledge is the first step towards anything and the prostate is no different. Informing yourself on how to keep your prostate in top shape will help lead to a better (not just sexual! Wink*) life.