Men have a gland that sits below the bladder, inside the rectum called the prostate. This gland is responsible for the creation of semen which helps reduce vaginal acidity and help sperm travel toward an egg. While there are likely other functions performed by the prostate, they have not yet been discovered. West Jefferson Medical Center offers advanced urological care that addresses men’s issues concerning the prostate.
Aging & prostate issues
As men grow older, the prostate begins to swell, known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). As the prostate is located next to the bladder and urethra, this swelling can cause a sensation of needing to urinate more frequently while also affecting their ability to urinate normally.
Signs of a swollen prostate include:
- More frequent urges to urinate, especially during the night
- Urinary incontinence following the urge to go
- Weak or irregular urine stream
Left untreated, BPH can lead to urinary tract infection, damage to the bladder and kidneys, and possibly bladder stones. If you believe you may be dealing with BPH, it is advisable to visit a urologist and address the problem before it becomes any more serious.
Diagnosis & treatment of prostate problems
A urologist will perform a number of tests to rule out any false positives before making a diagnosis regarding the prostate. As prostate cancer is among the most common forms of cancer in men, it is important that the tests check for those signs as well.
Prostate exam methods include:
- Digital rectal examination (DRE) – A urologist will inspect the prostate using a gloved finger via the opening at the rectum
- Blood test – By testing for prostate-specific antigens (PSAs), doctors can determine if the patient’s body contains signs of cancer, such as having an unusual amount of cells
- Prostate biopsy – Using an ultrasound imaging device, doctors examine the prostate area to check for tumors and obtain tissue samples as necessary
- Urine flow study – Patient urinates into a measurement tool that checks for constant and strong pressure
- Cytoscopy – The physician inspects the inside of the penis using a thin, tubular camera device to determine what kind of obstructions exist inside, if any
Treatments for prostate health
Following the diagnosis of a prostate issue, a physician may suggest a treatment, sometimes including surgery. These treatments will vary depending on the nature of the problem. For example, an infection is more likely to require drug treatments than prostate cancer, which will likely require surgery.
Treatments for these concerns could include:
- Medication – Various drugs exist that work to shrink the prostate, relax the smooth muscle tissue within the bladder and prostate, or slow hormone production
- Removal of excess prostate tissue – A number of methods exist to help shrink the prostate by removing excess tissue such as microwave heating, heated water, ultrasound, or low-level radiofrequencies
- Surgery – While there are a few ways the prostate can be accessed, all the surgical methods seek to reduce the size of the prostate by removing the swollen area. Methods could include transurethral surgery where tools are inserted in the urethra, external incisions, laser surgery where a tool is inserted in the urethra to vaporize tissue, and photoselective vaporization.
For men who were able to maintain an erection prior to the surgery, they are more likely to notice a return to their sexual ability.