The Prostate

Where is the prostate?

Only men have a prostate gland. The prostate is approximately the size of a golf ball, located beneath the bladder and surrounds the urethra, the tube that drains the bladder. The main function of the prostate is to produce semen, the fluid that men ejaculate. 

Common prostate conditions

The most common prostate problems are:

  • Enlargement of the prostate (benign prostatic enlargement/BPE)
  • Prostatitis
  • Prostate cancer

Urinary problems are common and may not be due to a prostate condition, hence it is important to seek an expert medical opinion.

Benign Prostatic Enlargement

As men get older the prostate gland typically increases in size. This growth is not the same as prostate cancer and doesn’t increase the risk of developing cancer.

As the prostate grows it can squeeze the urethra and lead to urinary symptoms. Not all men with an enlarged prostate experience symptoms.

Symptoms due to benign prostatic enlargement can be treated by a variety of ways, including lifestyle changes, medication and surgery. 

Common symptoms

  • Difficulty starting to urinate
  • Weak urine flow
  • Urine stream stops and starts
  • A feeling that your bladder hasn’t emptied completely
  • Dribbling urine after you think that you have finished
  • Passing urine more frequently, especially at night

Prostatitis

Prostatitis is a group of prostate conditions that are caused by infection or inflammation of the prostate gland. Prostatitis is a common problem and mainly affects men aged between 30-50 years. 

Prostatitis can cause a wide variety of symptoms, which can make it a difficult condition to diagnose and treat.

There are four types of prostatitis:

  • Acute bacterial prostatitis
  • Chronic bacterial prostatitis
  • Chronic pelvic pain syndrome
  • Asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis

Common symptoms

  • Pain in the perineum, testicles, penis, abdomen, lower back
  • Urinary problems, including frequency, urgency and discomfort
  • Lack of libido and difficulty getting and maintaining an erection
  • Pain on ejaculation and after intercourse
  • Bowel problems
  • Low mood and anxiety
  • Disturbed sleep and lack of energy

Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK. About 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime.

Risk factors for prostate cancer:

  • Mainly affects men over 50 years
  • Family history of prostate or breast cancer
  • Black men are more likely to be diagnosed

 

Common symptoms

  • Most men with early prostate cancer don’t have any symptoms. If they do have symptoms it is often due to co-existing prostatic enlargement or prostatitis
  • More advanced prostate cancer can cause urinary problems, erection difficulties, back/pelvic/hip pain, blood in the urine or semen and unexplained weight loss