Before reaching middle age, most men probably haven’t given their prostate gland much thought.
But as men get older, their chance of experiencing some kind of prostate problem becomes much more likely.
By the time a man reaches his 50s or 60s, the word ‘prostate’ has probably begun to take on a more real meaning. This could be because you’ve heard about some of your mates having prostate problems. Or perhaps some have even been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Having heard all the stories, it can be pretty worrying if you start to experience some prostate problems of your own - like having trouble urinating. It’s important not to panic though, because in most cases, the cause of these prostate problems won’t be cancer.
The most common prostate problems come from an enlargement of the prostate gland which can block the urinary flow. This enlarged prostate is called Benign Prostatic Hyperthrophy (BPH).
What is the Prostate gland?
The prostate sits at the base of a man’s bladder. It encircles the urethra as it empties urine from the bladder. The prostate produces most of the fluids in semen, the fluid that nourishes and transports sperm.
Originally the size of a pea, the prostate grows during puberty to the size of a walnut. A lot of men experience a second period of prostate growth in their 40s. This results in an enlarged prostate which can put extra pressure on the urethra or obstruct the urine flow.
Despite this enlargement, not all men get symptoms of prostate disease. A lot of older men experience some urinary obstructions, but this isn’t necessarily a sign of a prostate disease.
What are the signs and symptoms?
If you’ve got a prostate problem you mightn’t notice it straight away. The way you pass urine will change, but this often happens gradually. Here are some of the typical signs:
- Hesitancy or difficulty starting urine flow
- A weakening of urine flow
- Taking longer to urinate than you used to
- Not being able to empty your bladder completely
- Needing to go to the toilet more often at night
- Needing to go to the toilet more often during the day
- Having strong, sudden urges to urinate
- Dribbling of urine
- Urinary tract infection