November 20, 2020
Blog: What Does the Prostate Do?
Why on earth are they explaining this? Who doesn’t know the function of a prostate? It may seem self-explanatory to some, but there is a staggering amount of men that don’t know the function of their own prostate. In a recent survey of over 500 men by SurvivorNet.com, 41-percent of the men that participated in the survey said they don’t know the function of their prostate. Doesn’t seem self-explanatory now, does it? You don’t have to be an expert in urology to understand your prostate, but knowing its basic functions and warning signs can be beneficial to your health!
The prostate is located just below your bladder surrounding the urethra that is leaving the bladder on its way to the penis. The prostate normally is the size of a large walnut, weighing around 20 to 30 grams. It is also just in front of the rectum. This is how physicians are able to check the prostate in a digital rectal exam (DRE) using a lubricated, gloved finger to check for abnormalities.
The prostate produces fluid that is important in the development of sperm. In the process of ejaculation, the prostate mixes the fluid from the seminal vesicle with its own fluid and it’s expelled through the urethra with sperm as semen. The prostatic fluid from ejaculation makes up around 25-percent of semen. This fluid contains components like enzymes, citric acid, and zinc that help protect sperm. One important enzyme is the prostate-specific antigen (PSA). This enzyme is a protein that helps the semen become more fluid for traveling in ejaculation. The prostate is a very important component of your reproductive system, that’s why it’s crucial to keep an eye on your prostate’s health and know the signs when something isn’t right!
Warning Signs from Your Prostate
Along with an elevated PSA level, there are other signals for the potential for prostate cancer.
- Trouble urinating
- Urinating more often (especially at night)
- Weak stream or urge to go and not passing anything
- Trouble holding urine
- Blood in semen or urine
- Numb or weak feeling in your legs or feet, or even loss of continence. This is a result of cancer pressing the spinal cord.
- Trouble keeping or getting an erection
It is important to know that these signs don’t always mean you have prostate cancer. Trouble urinating can also be benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or prostatitis. Both of these situations are due to the prostate gland enlarging and affecting the flow of urine. The difference is that prostatitis comes from an infection that causes inflammation in the gland.
Cancer growth on your prostate can restrict the flow of urine through your urethra causing that urge to urinate and not passing urine or still feeling like you didn’t finish urinating. Early cases of prostate cancer often do not have any symptoms. It is important to talk to your doctor about your risk of cancer which can include family history, ethnicity, and lifestyle among others.
Know Your Number
PSA tests check the levels of your PSA protein to see if they are high. A high PSA does not always necessarily mean cancer. Factors like physical activity, medications, and infections can cause a PSA to rise, so always check with your physician! While a higher PSA might not be cancer, it is essential to know your PSA number and monitor it to know your risk of prostate cancer. Regular PSA tests are encouraged once a man reaches the age of 50. For men at a higher risk, it is recommended to get regular PSA tests once you reach the age of 40. Know your number! Early detection of prostate cancer can lead to easier prostate cancer management and more treatment options that can be less invasive and offer reduced side effects.