The prostate is a gland that sits at the base of the penis inside the pelvis, below the bladder and in front of the rectum (part of the bowel). The urethra passes through the centre of the prostate, which is why the prostate can affect urine flow. The function of the prostate is to make and store seminal fluid which contributes to the amount of fluid that is ejaculated during sex.
Prostate problems include infections (Prostatitis), benign enlargement (BPH or Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy) and Prostate Cancer.
Prostatitis can cause symptoms like pain or abnormalities with urinating, pain on ejaculation, or blood in the semen (cum).
It can be caused by bacteria (STIs or urinary bacteria), or non-bacterial causes eg. Inflammation. If it is caused by bacteria, it can be treated with antibiotics.
BPH (Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy) is a benign (non-cancerous) enlargement of the prostate that occurs with increasing age. It usually starts around age 40 and unfortunately gets worse the longer men live. Because the prostate surrounds the urethra (the pipe that connects the bladder to the penis), as the prostate enlarges, the pipe gets blocked. This leads to symptoms such as poor urinary stream, straining to urinate, dribbling, having to go back to finish, and getting up overnight to go to the toilet.
BPH can be treated with oral medications (tablets), laser or surgery.
BPH itself does not lead to prostate cancer.
Prostate Cancer is the most common cancer in men in Australia. Generally it is a cancer of older men and is more common over the age of 50.
The cause of prostate cancer is unknown but it can run in families. It is not caused by BPH (Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy).
Prostate cancer may not have any symptoms at all, or may have similar symptoms to BPH (Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy).
Currently, screening for prostate cancer is controversial as no screening program has yet been proven to lower the death rate.
However it is generally advised that men over the age of 50, or men over the age of 40 with a family history of prostate cancer should talk to their Doctor at Northside Clinic about the pros and cons of testing using a blood test (PSA or Prostate Specific Antigen) and a physical examination (DRE or Digital Rectal Examination).
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