The prostate is a small gland nestled in the groin between the rectum and the base of the penis; it’s approximately the size of a ping-pong ball and is responsible for providing the body with seminal fluid, the liquid that helps sperm travel and survive in its endeavors to fertilize the egg. It’s perhaps not surprising to learn that the word “prostate” comes from the Greek word “prostates,” which means guardian or protector; originally, the prostate was named for its placement in front of the bladder, but the name may also now be interpreted as pointing to the seminal fluid’s power to protect the sperm.
Anatomically speaking, the prostate has six main surfaces: the apex, base, anterior, posterior, as well as two lateral surfaces. It may also be divided into four distinct zones which are best looked at using MRI.
There are a number of conditions–both malignant and benign–that could befall the prostate. One such benign condition is known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Also known as prostate gland enlargement, the condition is commonly found in aging men and can cause uncomfortable urinary symptoms, including:
- Difficulty initiating urination
- The frequent or urgent need to urinate
- Nocturia, or needing to urinate at night more often
- Dribbling at the end of urination
- The inability to fully empty the bladder
- A weak or intermittent urine stream
Some of the less common signs of BPH include:
- Hematuria, or blood in the urine
- Urinary tract infection (UTI)
- The inability to urinate at all
Some may find that their BPH symptoms stabilize, or perhaps even get better with time. Others will have significant symptoms with only slightly enlarged prostates, while others, still, will have minor symptoms with significantly enlarged prostates.
It’s important to note that there are a number of other conditions that could cause the aforementioned symptoms, such as:
- Prostatitis (prostate inflammation)
- Prostate or bladder cancer
- Bladder or kidney stones
- Urethral stricture, or urethral narrowing
- Issues with the nerves that control the bladder
- Scarring in the bladder neck from a previous surgery
Because of this, it’s important to see your doctor as soon as you notice any symptoms. That way, you can find the root cause of them and receive the appropriate treatment. BPH is often treated via a minimally invasive procedure known as a prostate resection, which involves surgically removing part of the prostate to improve the flow of urine through the urethra.
BPH is generally directly caused by aging itself: throughout their lives, most men experience non-stop growth of their prostates, which could eventually lead to altered urine flow or the other urinary symptoms listed above. Experts don’t know what exactly it is that makes the prostate grow, though they suspect it may be changes in sex hormones.
Many of the Ezra scans will screen the prostate for cancer and other conditions such as BPH. To find more information on our screening options, you can follow this link.