Prostate Health

The prostate gland is part of the male reproductive system. It is a small, walnut-sized gland located in front of the rectum and just below the bladder. It wraps around the urethra, which is a tube that carries urine or sperm out of the body. The prostate gland is important in a man's reproductive years because it makes the fluid that nourishes and protects the sperm.

How Prostate Problems Are Found

Common prostate problems include prostatitis, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), and prostate cancer. Some prostate problems can be found by your doctor based on your symptoms, such as changes in urination or pelvic discomfort. Prostate cancer is found through tests.

Prostatitis

Prostatitis is a general term for a group of symptoms that may be related to the prostate gland and its function, but can also be related to other health conditions. It affects men of all ages.

Symptoms most often found with prostatitis include:

Usually these symptoms come and go, and sometimes they disappear without treatment. Although these symptoms can be annoying or painful, they won't lead to anything more serious.

About 5 percent of symptoms are linked to a bacterial infection. However, most cases are nonbacterial and the cause usually can't be found. Prostatitis isn't life threatening, and it doesn't lead to more serious health problems.

Treatment

Bacterial prostatitis is treated with antibiotics. However, most prostatitis is not caused by bacteria and can be treated in many ways, including:

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia

As a man ages, his prostate grows larger. This process is called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and is common in men aged 50 and older. BPH can affect how the bladder works, often causing a lot of lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS), which may include:

Call your doctor right away if you can't urinate and feel painful pressure in your bladder and back, or if there's blood in your urine.

Treatment

There are several options for treating these symptoms. Your doctor can explain the risks and benefits of each, and together you can decide which will work best for you.


Clinical review by David Grossman, MD
Group Health
Reviewed 01/20/2012