Common Problems of the Prostate Gland

By Charles Hopkins Published 05/2/2006 | Self Improvement
Being diagnosed as having problems with the prostate gland can conjure up thoughts of those dreaded words, "prostate cancer." Fortunately, most problems connected to this gland are not caused by cancer.

Problems with the prostate commonly affect men over the age of 50. The likelihood of contracting such problems does increase with age.

So what and where is the prostate gland? It is situated in the body below the bladder and in front of the rectum. It surrounds the urethra that carries urine from the bladder. The function of the prostate is to produce fluid that is a constituent of semen.

In a young man the prostate is as large as a walnut. The prostate gradually increases in size with age. This enlargement can cause problems with the urinary system. By the age of 70, about 40% or more of men have a prostate enlargement that can be detected by physical examination.

One prostate problem called benign prostate hyperplasia (BHP,) is caused by this enlargement and results in gradual pressure on the urethra. This 'squeezing' sometimes causes difficulty in starting to urinate, increased frequency in urination especially at night and a tendency to dribble afterwards.

Diagnosis is usually carried out by a doctor performing a digital rectal examination.

BHP is not cancer and is not thought to increase the risk of getting it. Generally, sexual functioning is not interfered with.

Prostate enlargement is not in itself enough to warrant treatment. Instead, periodic examinations are usually performed to check on this condition. However, if the symptoms become more troublesome, then treatment may be required.

Should treatment become necessary, then medication may be used which reduces the male hormone testosterone in the body resulting in a shrinkage of the prostate gland. Another method is surgery where the enlarged tissue is removed.

Prostatitis, which is inflammation, is another problem that can affect the prostate gland. Acute bacterial prostatitis is an acute infection of the gland caused by bacteria. Symptoms can be chills and fever, pain in the lower back or rectum and some pain while urinating.

Another type of prostatitis is chronic bacterial prostatitis which is a recurrent infection of the prostate. This can be accompanied by painful urination and genital pain.

Nonbacterial prostatitis causes prostate inflammation, but without any signs of infection. Symptoms are urinary such as pain or difficulty with urination.

Diagnosis of prostatitis is usually by a digital rectal examination.

Both acute and chronic prostatitis is routinely treated by the use of antibiotics. Nonbacterial prostatitis can be treated with medications that will reduce the urinary symptoms.

Prostate cancer is a common form of cancer in men. Although early prostate cancer does not usually cause any symptoms, it may spread from the prostate to surrounding areas. Common symptoms of this cancer are: frequent need to urinate, blood in the urine, pain or burning sensation while urinating, lower back pain or pain in the upper thighs or pelvis, stopping and starting urination and being unable to urinate.

Diagnosis generally involves a number of stages. Firstly, a digital rectum examination followed by tests. The tests may suggest the need for a biopsy which can confirm the presence of prostate cancer.

Treatment options can be surgery, hormonal therapy, chemotherapy or radiation.

Should you experience any of the symptoms mentioned, then the action required is simple - VISIT YOUR DOCTOR