Prostate: What is it? What is the normal one?

Even today, many men are unaware of what the prostate is, what it does, and when it can be a problem. Under certain circumstances, the prostate may become affected, thereby leading the people to become unaware of when they should contact the doctor. So, for every man, it is necessary to be aware of what a prostate is.

The prostate looks more like an apricot and is a muscular gland. It is responsible for producing semen and is placed right in front of the rectum and below the bladder.

What is the prostate?

The prostate is not ‘prostrate’. It is a small, squishy gland which looks more like a ping-pong ball and is situated deep within the groin. [1]The prostate is one of the most important parts. It has an essential involvement in reproduction as it is responsible for producing seminal fluid, thereby leading to release from the testes. The seminal fluid is responsible for the sperm to survive and also travel to the desired generation.

Men, you need to be aware of the development and functioning of the prostate and also what it is. If the prostate is not taken care of, it will eventually lead to the development of cancer and other problems.

What are the different prostate zones?

As per human anatomy, the prostate is divided into different zones or anatomic regions. Usually, prostate cancer starts from the peripheral zone, close to the rectum. Often it is suggested that a digital rectal examination is done. [2]

In the digital rectal examination, the doctor tests your prostate by putting a gloved finger in the rectum. This is one essential part of screening. One of the common signs for prostate cancer is difficulty in urinating.

Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy is a non-cancerous condition that usually occurs from the various transition zones around the urethra and urinary tube.[3]

What is the function of a prostate?

Although the prostate is a small part of the male reproductive system, it is beneficial and one of the most important ones. The prostate may not be helpful for your life, but it has a vital role to play for reproduction.

The prostate is responsible for producing healthy semen and transmission and fertilization. Semen is rich in enzymes such as PSA and is composed of other substances zinc, fructose, and citrate.[4] These are required to provide energy to the sperm to travel to the egg. Semen also consists of several antibodies that may be helpful for the urinary tract and sperm fight against bacteria and other pathogens.

During the adolescent period, the prostate tends to grow in size due to male hormone, testosterone, and the byproduct dihydrotestosterone.

Prostate gland grows

As mentioned above, after attaining adolescence, the prostate will grow in size. However, it can become large and is essential for men.

By the time you attain the age of 40, the prostate becomes equivalent to the size of a walnut or apricot.[5] The size keeps on reducing as you age, and by the time you reach 60, it will become as small as a lemon.

Reducing size may be efficient, but an enlarged prostate can cause many problems. As the urethra surrounds it, an enlarged prostate may lead to the tube being squeezed. Initially, the problem won’t be visible, but it will trouble you once you attain the age of 50. However, in some men, an enlarged prostate can start causing problems from an early age.

This condition is referred to as benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH.[6] However, the condition isn’t cancerous, so it is not something to be worried about.

 

What are the different kinds of prostate conditions?

While the prostate tends to be an essential part of the physical body, it may cause many problems. Some of the prominent conditions caused due to prostate include the following.

Prostatitis: In the case of prostatitis, the prostate undergoes inflammation mostly due to infection. This, however, is not a very serious problem as mild antibiotics can easily help to treat it.

Prostate cancer: This is the most common type of cancer found in men. However, one out of every 41 men dies due to prostate cancer. Different types of treatment can help treat prostate cancer, such as radiation, hormone therapy, and even chemotherapy. Nonetheless, many men delay the treatment, which is referred to as watchful waiting.

Enlarged prostate: Enlarged prostate is yet another common type of disease found in men. However, the enlarged prostate only affects the elderly. Common symptoms of an enlarged prostate include problems in urination. Both surgery and medications can help treat enlarged prostate.

 

What are the different prostate tests?

The doctor may conduct different types of prostate tests, depending on the condition. Some of the most prominent ones include the following.

Digital rectal examination: The doctor may insert a gloved finger through the rectum to check the prostate. [7]This test is usually conducted to find out an enlarged prostate, nodules, and lumps for prostate cancer and even prostatitis.

Prostate ultrasound: Also referred to as transrectal ultrasound, in this condition, an ultrasound is conducted by inserting it within the rectum, thereby leading to increased closeness to the prostate. This is usually conducted after the biopsy to check for prostate cancer.[8]

Prostate-specific antigen (PSA): The prostate is responsible for making up the protein known as PSA, which can only be detected through a blood test. Both prostate cancer and enlarged prostate can result in high PSA. Whether or not you should be screened will highly depend on your age. It is always recommended to consult the doctor whether or not you should undergo screening depending on the benefits and risks.

Prostate biopsy: In the case of a prostate biopsy, a needle is inserted into the prostate, and a tissue is drawn out. The test is conducted via the rectum. [9]

 

Who might get an enlarged prostate?

An enlarged prostate is very common in men of all age groups. This, however, cannot be prevented. Both age and family history have an essential role to play in increasing your chances of getting an enlarged prostate. According to statistics

  • Around 8 out of every ten men suffer from an enlarged prostate.
  • Mostly 90% of men above the age of 85 will be suffering from BPH.
  • 30% of men will have trouble with the symptoms.

Treatment for Prostate Conditions

Enlarged prostate

Different types of treatment will be effective for enlarged prostate. Some of the most common ones include the following.[10]

  • Alpha-blockers
  • Surgery to treat enlarged prostate
  • 5-alpha reductase inhibitors

Prostate cancer treatment

If your reports show that you have had prostate cancer, your doctor may ask you to undergo the following treatments[11]

  • Radiation therapy
  • Cryotherapy
  • Hormone therapy
  • Prostatectomy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Clinical trials
  • Watchful waiting

Every treatment will be recommended to you, depending on the severity of the condition.

Prostatitis Treatment

You may either be given medicines or antibiotics.[12] However, the entire treatment may be changed depending on the severity of the condition, and you may be asked to undergo surgery.

Prostate problems need to be taken care of effectively to ensure every problem is easily solved. If you feel any discomfort around your rectal region, then it is time that you see your doctor. And men, it is extremely necessary to know your body because that will help you in your sexual life.


[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279291/

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470550/

[3] Sadeghi-Nejad H, Simmons M, Dakwar G, Dogra V. Controversies in transrectal ultrasonography and prostate biopsy. Ultrasound Q. 2006 Sep;22(3):169-75. [PubMed]

[4] Bushman W. Etiology, epidemiology, and natural history of benign prostatic hyperplasia. Urol Clin North Am. 2009;36:403–15. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

[5] Girman CJ. Population-based studies of the epidemiology of benign prostatic hyperplasia. Br J Urol. 1998;82(suppl 1):34–43. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1477638/

[7] Grabe MB, Bishop MC, Bjerklund-Johansen M, et al. Guidelines on urological infections. 2009. http://www.uroweb.org.

[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2842183/

[9] https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/prostate/basic_info/diagnosis.htm

[10] https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/prostate-problems

[11] McNeal JE: Origin and evolution of benign prostatic enlargement. Invest Urol. 1978;15(4):340–5. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

[12] Gilling PJ, Cass CB, Malcolm AR, et al. : Combination holmium and Nd:YAG laser ablation of the prostate: initial clinical experience. J Endourol. 1995;9(2):151–3. 10.1089/end.1995.9.151 [PubMed] [CrossRef] [Google Scholar]

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