The prostate gland (the prostate) is an organ of the male reproductive system. It is about the size of a walnut and is found at the base of the bladder. The thin tube that allows urine and semen to pass out of the penis (the urethra) runs through the prostate gland. Alkaline fluid produced by the prostate gland helps to nourish sperm and leaves the urethra as ejaculate (semen).
The prostate undergoes two main growth spurts. The first is fuelled by the sex hormones made by the testes during puberty. This prompts the prostate to reach an average weight of 20 grams. The second growth spurt happens during the fourth decade of life.
Prostate disease and ageing
Around 25 per cent of men aged 55 years and over have a prostate condition. This increases to 50 per cent by the age of 70 years.
A man in his 50s or 60s should discuss with his doctor whether to have his prostate gland checked and how often. Early stages of prostate disease may have no symptoms. For those men with a family history of prostate disease (or particular concerns), prostate checks might be considered earlier. Please discuss with your doctor when prostate checks might be suitable for you.
Inflammation of the prostate
There are four types of prostatitis, including:
acute bacterial prostatitis
chronic bacterial prostatitis
chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CPPS), also called chronic non-bacterial prostatitis
asymptomatic sterile pyuria.
In most cases, the cause of the inflammation is unknown. However, prostatitis can be caused by bacteria. Bacterial prostatitis responds well to antibacterial drugs that concentrate in the prostate.
CPPS is more difficult to manage. It is a common form of prostatitis and symptoms vary from one man to another. There is no single test to diagnose CPPS, so your doctor will need to rule out other possible causes of your symptoms before making a diagnosis.
Possible causes of CPPS include:
a past bacterial prostatitis infection
irritation from some chemicals
a problem with the nerves connecting the lower urinary tract
problems with pelvic floor muscles
chronic anxiety problems.