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How to Recognize Prostate Problems

As you age, the chances of prostate trouble increase

Adapted from National Institutes of Health | April 25, 2012

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 does the prostate change as you get older?


Because the prostate gland tends to grow larger with age, it may squeeze the urethra and cause problems in passing urine. Sometimes men in their 30s and 40s may begin to have these urinary symptoms and need medical attention. For others, symptoms aren't noticed until much later in life. An infection or a tumor can also make the prostate larger. Be sure to tell your doctor if you have any of the urinary symptoms listed below.

Tell your doctor if you have these urinary symptoms:   

  •     Are passing urine more during the day
  •     Have an urgent need to pass urine
  •     Have less urine flow
  •     Feel burning when you pass urine
  •     Need to get up many times during the night to pass urine

What prostate changes should you be aware of?


Growing older raises your risk of prostate problems. The three most common prostate problems are:
  •     Inflammation (prostatitis)
  •     Enlarged prostate (BPH, or benign prostatic hyperplasia)
  •     Prostate cancer

One change does not lead to another. For example, having prostatitis or an enlarged prostate does not increase your risk of prostate cancer. It is also possible for you to have more than one condition at the same time.

Most prostate changes are not cancer.