Prostate Problems: Symptoms, Risk Factors, And What You Can Do – Men's Health

Prostate Problems: Symptoms, Risk Factors, And What You Can Do

The prostate gland only exists in men. It is a walnut-sized structure just beneath the bladder and that wraps around the urethra, which expels urine from the bladder. The prostate gland naturally grows bigger as a man ages and if it becomes too big, it can lead to urinary problems.

Prostate Enlargement

Some men can develop benign prostatic hypertrophy or BPH. This is a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate that commonly affects men as they age. It can contribute to dribbling of the urine, waking up at night to urinate, and having a difficult time urinating.

The treatment of BPH may just be watchful waiting. You learn to deal with the symptoms and make sure to try to empty your bladder with each void. If the symptoms become too significant, there are medications available that can shrink the size of the prostate gland so that symptoms are less. Surgery is used as a last resort.

Men can have a transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP), which removes prostate tissue and improves symptoms. Laser treatment or radio waves can be used to get rid of excess prostate tissue.

Acute And Chronic Bacterial Prostatitis

A man can develop a case of acute bacterial prostatitis. This bacterial infection causes chills, fever, and pain in the groin. It feels much like a bladder infection with blood in the urine and increased frequency of urination. It needs to be treated with antibiotics.

Chronic bacterial prostatitis is a recurrent infection of the prostate gland. The treatment is usually long-term antibiotics. Fortunately, it is uncommon.

Chronic Prostatitis

This leads to chronic pain in the male pelvis and is a common problem in men. It can cause pain in the tip of the penis, the groin, or the low back. Ejaculation is often painful. There is an increase in frequency of urination with the release of small amounts of urine at a time. This is treated with surgery, medications to reduce inflammation and changes in lifestyle.

Prostate Cancer

This is an extremely common form of cancer in men. It increases with age and is more likely to occur in African-American men. Family history plays a role in getting the disease, as is diet. A high fat diet can contribute to getting prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer usually has no symptoms in the beginning but, as time goes on, you may have problems urinating. It may act just like benign prostatic hypertrophy. There may be blood in the urine, blood in the semen, problems urinating, and pain in the pelvic or back area.

The doctor can evaluate you for prostate cancer by checking a prostate specific antigen (PSA) level and by doing a digital rectal examination, which can show areas of cancer in the gland. If cancer is suspected, a biopsy will be taken of the prostate gland through the rectum in order to identify the tissue as being cancerous.

Treating Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer can be slow growing or aggressive. If you have slow growing prostate cancer, the doctor may do nothing or may prescribe medications or radiation to slow the growth of cancer. If you have aggressive prostate cancer, the entire prostate may need to be removed and you may need to have chemotherapy or hormonal therapy.

Some men require removal of the testes, which decreases the rate of growth of the prostate cancer tissue. Radiation therapy in the form of external radiation or the implantation of radioactive beads in the prostate tissue can further decrease cancerous tissue.

PSA Testing

PSA testing is controversial. Some doctors believe that all men under the age of 75 should have a PSA test every year, while others do not think anyone should be screened this way. High PSA levels can occur in other prostate diseases and can mean you get a biopsy you didn’t need. Talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of getting a PSA screening test done.

Signs of a Prostate Problem

It is a good idea to pay attention to any sign of a problem with your prostate gland. These include the following:

  • Getting up at night often to void
  • Frequent urges to void
  • Painful urination
  • Blood in the semen or urine
  • Inability to void adequate amounts of urine
  • Pain in the pelvis, back, rectum, hips or upper thighs
  • Pain on ejaculation
  • Dribbling of the urine

These are signs of a possible prostate problem. If you are experiencing any of these prostate symptoms, seek the advice of your doctor.