The prostate gland plays an important role in both sexual and urinary function. The prostate continues to grow as a man ages, resulting in conditions that can make urination more difficult or impair sexual performance. It's likely that you will experience some form of prostate problem in your lifetime. Many prostate problems are quite common, aren't life-threatening and may happen to men of all ages. However, the symptoms of many benign prostate conditions are the same as prostate cancer, which is a common and serious health concern for men.
What is the Prostate?
The prostate is a gland about the size of a walnut that surrounds the neck of a man's bladder and urethra. The prostate functions partly as a gland and partly as a muscle, secreting fluid that forms part of the seminal fluid that carries sperm and, during orgasm, pushing the seminal fluid into the urethra and out of the body.
The prostate goes through two main periods of growth - one in early puberty, when the prostate doubles in size and again around age 25, when the prostate continues to grow throughout most of a man's life. As the prostate enlarges, it can press against the urethra and interfere with urination - one of the key symptoms of a prostate condition.
How common are Prostate Conditions?
- Prostate conditions usually manifest around age 50, though they can affect young and middle-aged men, especially in cases of prostatitis.
- By age 60, most men will have experienced at least some prostate issues, including difficulty urinating, painful urination or reduced ability to get an erection.
- As many as 90 percent of men age 70 to 80 have some symptoms of BPH.
- Prostate cancer affects one in six American men with 233,000 new diagnoses expected in 2014.
- Experts feel that 5 to 10 percent of all American males are experiencing prostatitis at a particular time, with many sufferers young to middle-aged men.
What are the types of Prostate Conditions?
The symptoms of many benign prostate conditions are similar to prostate cancer, which is a common and serious health concern for men. Always see your doctor for an accurate diagnosis if you think you may be experiencing any related symptoms.
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia
BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia) is one of the most common conditions in men where the enlarged prostate squeezes against the urethra and bladder, causing a slow urine stream, frequent urination and sometimes pain. BPH is treatable through a number of lifestyle, surgical and non-surgical treatments.
Prostatitis is another common prostate condition in men. It's a noncancerous inflammation of the prostate that can cause difficult and painful urination, fever, chills, lower back pain or pain in the genitals. Different classifications of prostatitis range from sudden, sharp and severe symptoms to symptoms reappearing and resolve themselves at random.
While the early symptoms of prostate cancer can be difficult to distinguish from more benign conditions, it can be detected with a number of screening tests. More than 90 percent of all prostate cancers are discovered while they are localized (confined to the prostate) or regional (nearby), with the five-year survival rate for men diagnosed with prostate tumors at these stages nearly 100 percent. It is critical to talk to your doctor about whether a prostate cancer screening is right for you.