What is The Prostate and its Size?
At the age of 60, men should be reaping the fruits of their labor. Unfortunately, this has just become too ideal for men these days; the issue being prostate problems. The incidence of prostatic diseases is on the rise. Let’s take a look and have a deeper understanding of what bothers aging men the most.
The prostate gland is a donut-shaped male organ that lies below the urinary bladder and surrounds the urethra. A normal prostate gland measures about 3 cm or 1.2 inch across, and weighs about 20 g or nearly an ounce. The primary function of this gland is to secrete a watery, milk-looking and slightly acidic prostatic fluid which constitutes about 30 % of the seminal fluid volume. The prostatic fluid plays an important role in sperm activation, viability, and motility, which are all needed in increasing the chances of fertilization.
The prostate gland normally grows in size; this enlargement becomes more pronounced as men ages. Since this gland surrounds the urethra, which is the passageway for urine from the urinary bladder, it is very important that its normal size be maintained. Consequently, the fact that the urethra passes through the small hole in the center of the prostate is a matter of considerable clinical significance.
Disorders of the Prostate
Several prostate disorders afflict men of all ages. Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is the most common. This is a noncancerous condition characterized by the enlargement of the prostate gland from 20 g (1 ounce) to up to 150 g or 5.31 ounce. This problem has the highest incident rate among prostate problems occurring in approximately 70-80 % in men as they reach their 70s or 80s. The enlargement of the prostate gland would eventually result in the partial or even complete constriction of the urethra; thereby, blocking the flow of urine from the urinary bladder. This is the reason why men who have BPH also complain of having urinary problems.
Prostate cancer is another issue that concerns men. It is considered the most common type of cancer in elderly men and the second most common cause of cancer-related death in men. What makes this more dilapidating is the fact that it does not present serious signs and symptoms meaning it could progress into dangerous stages without the patient even noticing it. Once prostate cancer becomes terminal, patients usually experience difficulty in urination and bleeding in the urinary tract. The worst consequence of prostate cancer would be its spread to distant areas which is common with this type of cancer in its later stages.
Another prostate disorder involves the inflammation of the prostate gland known as prostatitis. The contrasting characteristic of this disease is its predominance in younger men. It commonly afflicts men ages 20-50. It is basically classified into two types nonbacterial prostatitis and bacterial prostatitis. Nonbacterial prostatitis presents with pelvic pain, problems with urination and discomfort after ejaculation. There are several suggested causes of nonbacterial prostatitis including viruses, prostate muscle spasm, backflow of urine through the prostate ducts and even psychological disturbances.
Bacterial prostatitis on the other hand, is characterized by a bacterial infection of the prostate gland leading to inflammation. This may be sexually transmitted and causes swelling, pain and difficulty in urination. The patient may release bacterial fluid and blood may appear in the urine. If bacterial prostatitis is left untreated, it could lead to systemic infection causing a dangerously high fever. There are also instances wherein the infection cannot be completely eliminated even with antibiotic treatment and this could lead to a chronically infected prostate.
Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention
Prostate disorders have a common denominator problems in urination. Some men actually think that difficulty in urination is but just a normal consequence of aging. This is true to a certain extent with aging comes a higher risk of contracting prostate disorders that eventually leads to difficulty in urination.
For benign prostate hypertrophy, there are various treatment options that may be employed. There are a lot of medications available in the market, which work to either shrink or relax the prostate gland muscles. In the event that less radical methods of treatment fail, the last resort would be the surgical removal of the excess prostate tissue. This standard surgical procedure is known as the transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP). It employs the use of an endoscope, a tube that has a camera and a sharp instrument to cut away the excess prostate tissue.
Thousands of men who die each year from prostate cancer could have been saved if they were diagnosed early enough for treatment to be effective. In most cases, prostate cancer does not present with serious signs and symptoms, and can only be palpated once the disease has become terminal. Therefore, many cancer experts highly encourage prostate cancer screening tests be performed regularly especially for older men. Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test is a blood analysis that is currently available as a screening test. PSA is a tumor marker often found to be elevated in men with prostate cancer. Once prostate cancer is diagnosed, patients can undergo appropriate therapy depending on their stage. Terminal prostate cancer may still be treated but not completely cured, that’s why early diagnosis is a key in the good prognosis of the patient.
Prostatitis is often treated with medications such as antibiotics and antispasmodics. However, the success of such treatments varies widely.
Since the risk of acquiring prostate disorders increases with age, it is important to take care of the prostate gland early on. There are a lot of prostate supplements available over the counter, but it is also important to consider which of these would be effective. The key point here is to prevent the prostate gland from outgrowing itself; thus, maintaining its normal size.
Having a healthy and good overall well-being would contribute a lot in maintaining a healthy prostate. In order to truly relish the joys of aging and retirement, men should not just be prepared financially; men should also bank on their health and physical well-being to be completely equipped.