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Mar 15, 2023

Men's Health

The Anatomy of The Prostate

What is a prostate?

The prostate is a part of the male reproductive system which also includes the penis, testicles, and seminal vesicles. Located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum, the prostate is a small gland, roughly the size and shape of a walnut and weighs approximately 30 grams or 1 ounce. The urethra, the duct that empties urine from your bladder, is enclosed by the prostate.

Male reproductive system

What is the role of the prostate?

The primary role of the prostate is the production of seminal fluid, which nourishes and transports semen. Approximately 20–30% of the total volume of seminal fluid comes from the prostate.

The fluid contains zinc, citric acid, and enzymes that support sperm cell nutrition and urethral lubrication. Although the fluid around the prostate is somewhat acidic, semen in general is alkaline. This will balance the vagina's pH and preserve the sperm from harm.

The prostate is an androgen-sensitive organ which means its growth, development, and function are affected by androgens—male sex hormones—especially by testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Testosterone is produced in the testes, then converted to dihydrotestosterone—a more potent androgen—in the prostate. DHT is responsible for the development of male secondary sexual traits, such as facial hair and deepening of the voice.

Benign prostatic hyperplasia

After age 40, the prostate generally enlarges and may narrow the urethra, a condition known as benign prostatic hyperplasia or "BPH" for short. Your prostate can expand to the size of a lemon or apricot by the time you reach 60 years of age.

Keep in mind that BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia) is not cancerous and doesn't put you at a higher risk of getting prostate cancer.

However, the enlarged prostate might constrict the urethra since it partially surrounds it. Therefore, when you try to urinate, this may create issues. These issues usually don't manifest themselves until you're 50 years or older, however, they might appear sooner.

Any of the following urine symptoms should be reported to your doctor right away:

  • Increased urination throughout the day
  • Decreased urine flow
  • Need to urinate immediately
  • Experience a burning sensation when urinating
  • Have to often get up during the night to use the restroom

How can I keep a prostate healthy?

Any of the following urine symptoms should be reported to your doctor right away:

  • Undergoing routine prostate exams (preferably every year). Most individuals should begin tests around age 50. Starting tests earlier in life is a sensible move if prostate cancer runs in your family.
  • Managing stress
  • Hydrating regularly
  • Exercising regularly, making you less prone to developing BPH
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Smoking cessation. Your risk of prostate cancer may rise if you use tobacco products.
  • Consuming a balanced diet. Prostate health may be supported by eating the required amounts of fruits, vegetables, and lean protein. Additionally, meals such as salmon, whole grains, olives, avocado, and a limited amount of red meats should be incorporated.
  • Reduce the consumption of alcohol and processed food

What are common prostate exams?

Digital rectal exam (DRE)

The majority of prostate cancers grow close to the side of the prostate that a digital rectal exam (DRE) may feel. This exam is conducted by your doctor who uses a finger that has been gloved and lubricated and inserts it into your rectum to feel your prostate. A digital rectal exam (DRE) may occasionally reveal an enlarged prostate, lumps or nodules of prostate cancer, or discomfort from prostatitis.

Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) testing

Both healthy and cancerous cells in your prostate gland generate PSA, which is a protein that’s produced by your prostate cells. However, PSA levels generally rise with the majority of prostate cancers. A blood test is used to assess PSA. A value over 4 ng/mL may be a sign of prostate cancer.

Prostate biopsy

A needle is used to remove tissue from the prostate and examine it for prostate cancer.


The prostate is examined using an ultrasound probe that has been inserted into the rectum. A biopsy and ultrasound are frequently used to check for prostate cancer.

What are common medical conditions that affect the prostate?

The following are typical conditions that may impact your prostate:

  • Enlarged prostate or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH): The medical condition known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), also referred to as prostate gland enlargement, is brought on by the expansion of stromal and epithelial cells in the prostate gland.
  • Prostatitis or inflammation of your prostate gland, which is often caused by bacteria and can be spread from your rectum or from infected urine
    • 4 different types of prostatitis include chronic prostatitis, acute bacterial prostatitis, chronic bacterial prostatitis, and asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis.
  • Prostate cancer: The second (first being skin cancer) most prevalent cancer to strike biological men in the United States is prostate cancer. Fortunately, most prostate cancers are found before they spread to other parts of the body.

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