Prostate problems can occur often, especially in men who are over 50 years old.
The prostate is a small gland in the male reproductive system. It surrounds the urethra – the tube that carries urine out of the body.
The prostate gland has the size and shape of a walnut, but it tends to get larger with age. Sometimes it may become enlarged or swollen in cases such as:
Enlargement of the prostate
Prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate)
If you suspect any prostate problems, you can use the at-home test Prosta-Check, which provides information about the condition of the prostate by measuring the PSA (prostate-specific antigen) level.
Enlargement of the prostate
The enlargement of the prostate is a very common condition related to aging. More than 1 in 3 men over 50 have some symptoms of an enlarged prostate. It is not known why the prostate enlarges with age, but it is not caused by cancer and it does not increase the risk of developing prostate cancer. An enlarged prostate can put pressure on the urethra, which can affect urination.
Signs of an enlarged prostate can include:
Difficulty starting or stopping urination
Weak urine flow
Straining when urinating
Feeling like you are unable to empty your bladder completely
Continuous release of drops of urine after urination
Frequent or sudden need to urinate
Frequent urination at night
Consult your general practitioner if you notice any problems or changes in the way you urinate.
Some measures such as consuming less fluids (especially tea, coffee, and alcohol) before bed can help control these symptoms. There are different medications that can help reduce the size of the prostate and relax the bladder muscles.
In severe cases when the condition does not improve with medication, the inner part of the prostate can be surgically removed.
Prostatitis is an inflammation or infection of the prostate gland. In some cases, it may be caused by a bacterial infection, but more often the causes of the disease are not clear.
Compared to enlargement of the prostate and prostate cancer which usually affect older men, prostatitis can be developed in men of all ages. Nevertheless, it normally affects men over 50.
Symptoms of prostatitis can include:
Pain in the perineum (the area between the anus and the scrotum) that often gets worse after prolonged sitting
Pain in the pelvis, genitals, lower back, and buttocks
Pain when urinating
Frequent need to urinate
Pain during ejaculation
See your general practitioner if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms.
Prostatitis can be treated with a combination of painkillers and medication. In some cases, it may be treated with antibiotics.
Most men recover within a few weeks or months although some continue to have symptoms for longer periods of time.
The probability of getting prostate cancer increases with age. The condition affects predominantly men over 65 years old although men over 50 are also at risk.
The risk of developing prostate cancer also increases depending on:
Ethnic group – prostate cancer is more common in black men than in white men and it is least common in Asian men
Family history – having a brother or father who developed prostate cancer when they were under 60 seems to increase the risk of getting the disease
In its early stages, prostate cancer does not usually cause any symptoms. The signs of prostate cancer can often be difficult to distinguish from those of an enlarged prostate. Symptoms may include:
Need to urinate more often, often at night
A feeling that your bladder is not completely empty
Blood in the urine or blood in the semen
You need to see your general practitioner if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms. It is more likely that an enlarged prostate is the cause, but it is important to rule out the possibility of prostate cancer.
The outlook for prostate cancer is generally good because, unlike many other types of cancer, it usually progresses very slowly.