Prostate Health & Disease

The prostate gland has an important job: it produces a thick, milky-white fluid that becomes part of the semen, the liquid ejaculated during sexual activity. The gland isn't big—about the size of a walnut or golf ball—but its location virtually guarantees problems if something goes awry. The prostate gland is located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum. It also wraps around the upper part of the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body. That means prostate problems can affect urination and sexual function.

The prostate is prone to three main conditions:

Prostatitis: infection or inflammation of the prostate. Prostatitis can cause burning or painful urination, the urgent need to urinate, trouble urinating, difficult or painful ejaculation, and pain in the area between the scrotum and rectum (known as the perineum) or in the lower back.

Benign prostatic hyperplasia: aging-related enlargement of the prostate gland. Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) can make the prostate compress the urethra and slow or even stop the flow of urine, in much the same way that bending a garden hose chokes off the flow of water. BPH affects about three-quarters of men over age 60.

Prostate cancer: the growth of cancerous cells inside the prostate, which may break out of the gland and affect other parts of the body. In the United States, about 1 man in 7 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. It occurs mainly in older men.

Prostate Health & Disease Articles

Chronic Prostatitis

The prostate is a walnut-sized gland that sits below the bladder in men. This gland makes fluid that mixes with sperm to form semen. Prostatitis is inflammation or swelling of the prostate gland. When symptoms start gradually and linger for more than a couple of weeks, the condition is called chronic prostatitis. Three major types of chronic prostatitis are: Chronic bacterial prostatitis — In this condition, a bacterial infection causes swelling and inflammation of the prostate. Doctors can definitively make this diagnosis if bacteria and white blood cells are found in the urine. White blood cells are present when there is inflammation that may or may not be related to an actual infection.  Chronic non-bacterial prostatitis, also called inflammatory chronic pelvic pain syndrome — Doctors make this diagnosis when patients have typical symptoms of chronic prostatitis, but no bacteria are found in a urine sample. The cause of most cases of non-bacterial prostatitis is not well understood. The urine often contains white blood cells. Some patients may have a persistent low-grade infection that cannot be detected in a routine urine sample.  Prostadynia, also called non-inflammatory chronic pelvic pain syndrome — This term is used when symptoms of prostatitis are present, but there is no evidence of prostate infection or inflammation.  (Locked) More »

Biopsy of the Prostate and Transrectal Ultrasound

Your doctor is likely to recommend this test if you've had a rectal exam or blood tests that suggest that you might have prostate cancer. For this test, a urologist takes tissue samples from several places in your prostate, to be examined for cancer. A transrectal ultrasound helps the urologist see the prostate during the procedure. (Locked) More »

Enlarged Prostate (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia)

The prostate is a small gland approximately the size and shape of a walnut. It sits directly below the bladder, in front of the rectum. The prostate is a part of the male reproductive tract. It produces fluid that combines with sperm to make semen. At birth, the prostate gland is tiny. When testosterone levels rise during puberty, the prostate grows rapidly, doubling in size by age 20. Growth slows down for the next two decades and the prostate usually does not cause problems for many years. Less than 10% of 30-year-old men have an enlarged prostate. When a man reaches his 40s, the prostate goes through a second growth spurt. Half of all men have an enlarged prostate by the time they reach age 60, and by age 85, 90% of men have an enlarged prostate.   (Locked) More »

Acute Prostatitis

What Is It? The prostate is a walnut-sized gland that sits below the bladder in men. This gland makes fluid that mixes with sperm to form semen. Because the prostate surrounds the urethra (the tube that carries urine out of the body from the bladder), conditions that cause the prostate to swell or enlarge may press on the urethra and cause pain or problems with urination. Prostatitis is inflammation of the prostate gland. Acute prostatitis is inflammation of the prostate gland that results in sudden onset of symptoms. Acute prostatitis is caused by an infection, usually by bacteria that get into the prostate by traveling up the urethra. Some of these bacteria are the normal germs that live on and inside your body. Other infections are transmitted through sexual contact. (Locked) More »

Medical memo: Cholesterol and prostate cancer

Ask men about their top health worries, and most will put cholesterol and prostate cancer high on the list. That's understandable, since unfavorable cholesterol levels contribute to heart attack and stroke, the first and fourth leading causes of death in America, and prostate cancer takes about 32,000 lives a year. Still, while most men understand the link between cholesterol and cardiovascular disease, few suspect a link between cholesterol and cancer. Research is beginning to change that. (Locked) More »

Acupuncture for ED?

Research is beginning to consider the possibility that acupuncture may help some men with erectile dysfunction. Acupuncture merits more study, both in relation to ED and to a host of other purported uses.  Men who are attracted to "all-natural" therapies should work on lifestyle changes that can preserve or improve erectile function. (Locked) More »

Testosterone replacement: A cautionary tale

Testosterone therapy has been viewed as a way to counter the effects of aging where bone calcium declines, muscle mass decreases, body fat increases and red blood cell counts decline. But there is no proof that testosterone therapy will reverse these changes and its safety for older men remains controversial. A study found that men who took daily testosterone had a higher incidence of cardiovascular events. Its role in prostate disease, both benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and prostate cancer is unresolved. (Locked) More »