Prostate

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The prostate gland, a key part of the male reproductive system, is linked closely with the urinary system. It is a small gland that secretes much of the liquid portion of semen, the milky fluid that transports sperm through the penis when a man ejaculates.

The prostate is located just beneath the bladder, where urine is stored, and in front of the rectum. It encircles, like a donut, a section of the urethra. The male urethra is the tube that carries urine from the bladder out through the penis. During ejaculation, semen is secreted by the prostate through small pores in the urethra's walls.

The prostate is made up of three lobes encased in an outer covering, or capsule. It is flanked on either side by the seminal vesicles, a pair of pouch-like glands that contribute secretions to the semen. Next to the seminal vesicles run the two vas deferens, tubes that carry sperm from the testicles. The testicles, in addition to manufacturing sperm, also produce testosterone, a male sex hormone that controls the prostate's growth and function.

Disorders of the prostate

Prostate problems are very common after age 50. And the older men get, the more likely they are to have such problems. Most prostate problems are not cancer.

When a man is young, the prostate is about the size of a walnut. It slowly grows larger as he gets older. If the prostate gets too large, it can cause urinary problems. Infection or cancer in the prostate can also cause urinary and other problems. Often, men notice symptoms themselves, and sometimes their doctor finds something during a routine check-up.

There are several different kinds of prostate problems. Only a doctor can tell one from another. That’s why it is a wise decision to see a doctor if something doesn’t seem right.

Prostatitis

Acute prostatitis is an infection of the prostate caused by bacteria. It usually starts all of a sudden. It can cause fever, chills, or pain in the lower back and between the legs. It can cause pain when urinating. Antibiotic drugs can kill the bacteria and help to feel better.

Chronic prostatitis is an infection of the prostate that keeps coming back time after time. This problem can be hard to treat. Sometimes, taking antibiotics for a long time may work.

Benign prostatic hyperplasia

For more information, see: Benign prostatic hyperplasia.

Benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH, is very common in older men. The prostate is enlarged, but it is not cancerous.

Prostate Cancer

For more information, see: Prostate cancer.