Your prostate has quietly done its job — creating semen — for much of your life, and you’ve given it little thought. As you grow older, however, it’s worth understanding a little bit about this small gland, as it can present problems as you age.
Dr. Robert Cornell is a specialist in men’s health, and one of his areas of expertise is the prostate. From benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) to prostate cancer, these conditions strike a fair number of the male population, which makes learning more about your prostate important.
It is said that there is no job that’s too small, and this describes the function of your prostate. This small gland has one job — to produce fluid to carry and nourish your sperm (semen). This function may seem fairly minor until you consider that your ability to reproduce naturally depends on your prostate.
Your prostate is located just below your bladder, and it features an opening in the middle through which your urethra passes. This location allows your prostate to join the fluid with your sperm, which you ejaculate through your urethra.
This small gland goes through two growth phases. The first is when you enter puberty and the gland doubles in size.
The second growth phase starts in your mid-20s and continues for the rest of your life. This second growth phase isn’t nearly as fast as the first, but the continued growth of your prostate can slowly transform a walnut-sized prostate into one that’s the size of a baseball.
There are two primary conditions when it comes to the prostate: BPH and prostate cancer.
With BPH, the growth of your prostate begins to interfere with the function of your urethra. As we mentioned, your urethra passes right through the middle of your prostate, so as this gland grows, it can squeeze your urethra. This can lead to problems with urination, as well as a thickening in your bladder walls, which can weaken your bladder.
Please note the word “benign” in BPH, as the condition isn’t cancerous, but it can lead to serious urinary tract issues as well as quality of life concerns.
If you’re wondering whether BPH is something you should be concerned about, consider this: Half of men between the ages of 51 and 60 have some degree of BPH, and this number climbs to 90% of men over the age of 80.
2. Prostate cancer
Outside of skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men — about 1 in 8 men in the United States will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime.
While this statistic may sound alarming, prostate cancer is a slow-growing cancer and highly treatable.
We realize that the numbers we present above regarding BPH and prostate cancer are eye-opening in terms of the prevalence of prostate issues. It’s important to note, however, that there are highly effective treatment options for both conditions, and we offer them here.
If you’d like to learn more, contact our office in Houston, Texas, to set up an appointment.