Understanding Prostate Changes

The prostate is a small gland in men. It is part of the male reproductive system. The prostate is about the size and shape of a walnut. It sits low in the pelvis below the bladder and just in front of the rectum. The prostate helps make semen, the milky fluid that carries sperm from the testicles through the penis when a man ejaculates. The prostate surrounds part of the urethra, a tube that carries urine out of the bladder and through the penis.

How the Prostate Changes As You Age

Because the prostate gland tends to grow larger with age, it may squeeze the urethra and cause problems in passing urine.

The prostate gland is about the size of a walnut when a man is in his 20s. By the time he is 40, it may have grown slightly larger, to the size of an apricot. By age 60, it may be the size of a lemon. The enlarged prostate can press against the bladder and the urethra. This can slow down or block urine flow. Some men might find it hard to start a urine stream, even though they feel the need to go. Once the urine stream has started, it may be hard to stop. Other men may feel like they need to pass urine all the time, or they are awakened during sleep with the sudden need to pass urine. Early BPH symptoms take many years to turn into bothersome problems. These early symptoms are a cue to see your doctor.

“Sometimes men in their 30s and 40s may begin to have urinary symptoms and need medical attention,” says Dr. Akwasi Boateng, a urologist with UCA GU Surgeons in East Brunswick. “For others, symptoms aren’t noticed until later in life. We see men of all ages, with a wide spectrum of prostate conditions.”

Common Prostate Changes & Problems 

Prostatitis

Prostatitis is an inflammation of the prostate gland that may result from a bacterial infection. It affects at least half of all men at some time during their lives. Having this condition does not increase your risk of any other prostate disease.

Symptoms of prostatitis include:

  • Trouble passing urine
  • A burning or stinging feeling or pain when passing urine
  • Strong, frequent urge to pass urine, even when there is only a small amount of urine
  • Chills and high fever
  • Low back pain or body aches
  • Pain low in the belly, groin, or behind the scrotum
  • Rectal pressure or pain
  • Urethral discharge with bowel movements
  • Genital and rectal throbbing
  • Sexual problems and loss of sex drive
  • Painful ejaculation (sexual climax)

Correct diagnosis of your exact type of prostatitis is key to getting the best treatment.

The Enlarged Prostate (BPH – benign prostatic hyperplasia)

BPH stands for benign prostatic hyperplasia. Benign means “not cancer,” and hyperplasia means abnormal cell growth. The result is that the prostate becomes enlarged. BPH is not linked to cancer and does not increase your risk of getting prostate cancer—yet the symptoms for BPH and prostate cancer can be similar.

Symptoms of BPH

  • Trouble starting a urine stream or making more than a dribble
  • Passing urine often, especially at night
  • Feeling that the bladder has not fully emptied
  • A strong or sudden urge to pass urine
  • Weak or slow urine stream
  • Stopping and starting again several times while passing urine
  • Pushing or straining to begin passing urine

Treatments for BPH

Some men with BPH eventually find their symptoms to be bothersome enough to need treatment. BPH cannot be cured, but drugs or surgery can often relieve its symptoms. Talk with your doctor about the best choice for you. Your symptoms may change over time, so be sure to tell your doctor about any new changes.

If you have questions about your prostate or symptoms you may be having, please contact a UCA urologist near you, or click this link to find an office:   http://www.urologycarealliance.com/locations/