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Prostate Health

The Prostate
Prostate Gland Enlargement
PSA Test
Prostate Cancer

The Prostate

      The prostate gland is located just below a manís bladder, behind the pubic bone and in front of the rectum. It surrounds the top portion of the urethra, which functions as the tube that drains urine from the bladder. The main function of the prostate is to produce many of the fluids present in semen, the fluid that nourishes and transports sperm during ejaculation.
      The most important fluid produced by the prostate is the slightly alkaline fluid which accounts for up to 30% of the volume of seminal fluid. This fluid, along with spermatozoa, is what makes up semen. The remaining seminal fluid is produced by the seminal vesicles. The alkalinity of seminal fluid is vitally important, as it helps of prolong the lifespan of sperm by neutralizing the acidity present in the vaginal tract.
      The prostate also contains smooth muscles that assist in expelling semen during ejaculation. Prostate health is vital for men, both in terms of reproduction and healthy sexual functioning.

Healthy Prostate Development

      When a male is born, his prostate is about the size of a pea. It grows little during childhood, up until puberty, when it experiences a growth spurt. The prostate reaches full development around the age of 25, at which point it is the size of a walnut.
      Most men experience another phase of prostate growth during their 40s. Cells in the central portion of the gland, the area where the prostate surrounds the urethra, reproduce more rapidly. This prostate gland enlargement presents some difficulties for many men as they continue to age. Prostate enlargement can lead to a condition called Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH). It has no impact on the development of prostate cancer. Good prostate health typically involves some enlargement; however, significant enlargement can cause prostate symptoms that should be addressed by a physician.

Prostate Exams

      A digital rectal exam (DRE) is the least invasive method for a doctor to examine the prostate. This procedure involves the insertion of a finger into the rectum. During a prostate exam, the doctor is assessing the feel and shape of the prostate. A healthy prostate is triangular in shape and 2-4 cm long. A healthy prostate will feel firm and rubbery.
      This exam can detect an enlarged prostate and whether or not there may be evidence of prostate cancer. If prostate abnormalities are detected, further tests will follow, typically starting with a PSA test.
      Prostate health is vital to a man's overall health and functioning. Opinion differs about when men should begin having prostate exams, however, it is generally accepted that men between the ages of 45 -50 should be having regular exams. Also, men who exhibit potential prostate symptoms, such as difficulty urinating or erectile dysfunction, should undergo a prostate exam to rule out the prostate gland as the cause of the symptoms.

Prostate Symptoms

      Good prostate health is central to a man's overall health and well-being. The prostate plays a critical role in terms of healthy urination, sexual functioning, and overall sexual well-being. Some men report an ability to reach orgasm through simple prostate stimulation. This is the reason why the prostate is sometimes called a man's "g-spot".
      Symptoms of potential prostate problems include difficult or slow urination, and erectile dysfunction or interference with normal sexual functioning and ejaculation. The presence of any of these symptoms may not be attributed to the prostate; however, it is typically one of the first considerations when a patient presents with signs of potentially poor prostate health.
      These prostate symptoms could be signs of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BHP), also know as prostate gland enlargement, Prostatitis (prostate inflammation), or even prostate cancer. Only a physician can assess these symptoms and arrive at a diagnosis.
      Many people believe that a healthful diet, regular exercise, and the avoidance of excessive alcohol consumption help maintain good prostate health. As these behaviors are central to good overall health, they are highly recommended in terms of prostate health as well.

The Digital Urology Channel offers information about the prostate and prostate gland diseases and conditions. The Prostate Cancer Coalition website is an excellent resource for those managing the disease.

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