Chances are you’ve heard of the prostate before- do you know where it is or what it does? The prostate is a very important part of the male anatomy in that it is greatly involved in reproductive procedures. Essentially, it is the job of the prostate to improve the odds of semen being able to reach and impregnate the egg inside a woman. The prostate gland contributes in a number of ways to this particular goal- such as additional smooth muscle to help drive the semen forward, and even a special fluid that helps protect the semen from the vaginal environment.
For this reason, and the general ‘reverence’ associated with male genitalia, the very mention of a prostate problem can be a cause for concern. However, most people don’t know very much about the prostate, or what it means to have an enlarged prostate gland. Likewise, most men are uninformed about when or how often they should have their prostate checked, which can lead to serious issues going unreported, especially if there is an absence of obvious symptoms, such as pain, throbbing, or redness. To be fair, while these definitely do signal problems, other warnings may be less visible than these.
The prostate gland takes up its position beneath the bladder and urethra. As it is involved in both urination and ejaculation, it’s important to be located near both the bladder and the testicles respectively. In the case of urination, muscles compress the bladder, forcing the urine into the prostate, and from there, through the urethra. You might think of the prostate as a gatekeeper; it prevents the release of urine until the body is ready to release it. Those who have prostate issues may have trouble holding back their urine (incontinence ), which may cause it to leak out involuntarily.
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia
First and foremost, if there is swelling in the prostate gland, the situation could be classified as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Generally, this condition only occurs in men over the age of 40, though it is more prevalent in men between the ages of 50 and 60. Generally, it affects half the men in this age range. While that much is known, the ‘why’ regarding an enlarged prostate is much less understood. It’s though to be a matter of hormones. As men get older and older, testosterone production drops, which comparatively gives them a higher level of estrogen, researchers say.
This ratio of estrogen to testosterone might have an effect on the prostate, causing it to grow into a BPH situation. However, estrogen is not the only hormone that may affect prostate growth. Consider the hormone known as dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Even after testosterone levels have begun to drop, DHT can carry on, and may play a role in the growth of the prostate cells. This growth can restrict the flow of urine. Typically, the first sign of a prostate problem, this issue occurs because the growth causes the opening of the prostate to become constricted, leading to impeded urine flow.