The prostate is a gland that is only found in men. It plays an important role in sex and fertility, but it can cause urinary problems in later life. If your doctor suspects that you might have an enlarged prostate or prostate cancer, you might want to learn a little more about this gland and what it does for you.
What is the Prostate Gland?
The prostate is a gland that produces the fluid that mixes with your sperm and the fluid created by the seminal gland to create semen. It is about the same size as a walnut and it is found below the bladder, where it surrounds the tube that leads urine out of your body. The prostate releases the fluid it produces into this tube. The muscles around the prostate help to propel the fluid into the urethra and out of the penis during ejaculation.
Prostate fluid is important because it helps sperm to survive longer and increases their motility. One component of the fluid produced by the prostate is prostate-specific antigen or PSA, which is the substance that is measured when you have a prostate cancer test. Some of the PSA produced by the prostate enters into your blood stream and the amount that is detected during the prostate cancer test can help your doctor to diagnose prostate enlargement or cancer.
The Prostate Gland and Your Health
The prostate gland usually gets bigger with age. If is grows too large, it can start to cause problems such as discomfort or difficulty urinating. Medication or surgery may then be required to relieve the symptoms. Another potential health issue is prostate cancer, which can produce similar symptoms to benign prostate enlargement. You may need to have a PSA or prostate cancer test to determine what is causing your symptoms. If cancer is detected, treatment may be required to shrink or remove the cancer.