What is the prostate an what is it's function
The prostate is a walnut-sized gland located between the bladder and the penis. The prostate is just in front of the rectum. The urethra runs through the center of the prostate, from the bladder to the penis, letting urine flow out of the body.
The prostate secretes fluid that nourishes and protects sperm. During ejaculation, the prostate squeezes this fluid into the urethra, and it’s expelled with sperm as semen.
The vasa deferentia (singular: vas deferens) bring sperm from the testes to the seminal vesicles. The seminal vesicles contribute fluid to semen during ejaculation.
Every guy has one and it’s an important part of our sexual health, yet a lot of guys don’t really know the answer to the most basic question: What exactly is a prostate?
In a nutshell, the prostate is a walnut-shaped gland located in front of the rectum, and between the bladder and the penis that controls things like your urine flow and the volume of your ejaculate. The prostate grows naturally as men age, and for most guys, this isn’t a problem. But once you hit 40, it’s time to start paying attention.
“The prostate is very important for fathering children because of its role in producing the fluid that helps sperm survive in their ultimate journey,” says Dr. Larry Goldenberg, founder of the Canadian Men’s Health Foundation. “But after age 40, the prostate can become inflamed, grow, and block urine flow, or become cancerous. At this age, every man should investigate how he can keep his prostate healthy and ask his doctor about getting a blood test and digital rectal examination.”
Although only 1 in 10,000 men under age 40 is diagnosed with prostate cancer, the rate shoots up to 1 in 38 for ages 40 to 59, and 1 in 14 for ages 60 to 69. In fact, it’s the leading cause of men’s cancer in Canada: a whopping 1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime.
And as scary as that fact is, the scariest part is that the vast majority of prostate cancers do not have any symptoms. Problems peeing are almost always due to non-cancerous causes. The one exception to this is seeing blood in the toilet bowl – this is a signal that requires attention because something nasty might be lurking.
The good news? If prostate cancer is detected and treated early, there’s a 95% survival rate. If you’re over 40, make sure you speak to your doctor about your prostate.
The prostate is a gland:
the size of a walnut, located between the bladder and the penis, just in front of the rectum.
formed of 2 lobes which surround the urethra, a canal that runs through the center of the prostate, from the bladder to the penis, letting urine and sperm flow out of the body.
that has a soft, spongy texture to the touch like a small, ripe plum.
The prostate is made of:
gland cells that secrete liquids for ejaculation
muscle cells that regulate the flow of urine and ejaculation
fiber cells that maintain the structure of the gland
Around the prostate, we find:
the seminal vesicles, glands that produce sperm and that are located on either side of the prostate
the vas deferens, the tube that carries sperm from the testicle to the seminal vesicles
the muscles that regulate urination and ejaculation
It is used to produce the liquid part of the sperm that nourishes and protects spermatozoa
It produces a protein – Specific Prostatic Antigen (PSA) – which helps the sperm to remain in a liquid form after ejaculation
It controls urinary flow and ejaculation by relaxing or contracting its muscle fibers when urinating or during an orgasm
It indicates that PSA, which is found in sperm and blood, may be useful for detecting prostate diseases
The prostate is made up of thousands of tiny fluid-producing glands. Specifically, the prostate is an endocrine gland. Endocrine glands are so-called because they secrete through ducts to the outside of the body (or into a cavity that communicates with the outside). Sweat glands are another example of an endocrine gland.
The fluid that the prostate gland produces forms part of semen, the fluid that carries sperm during orgasm. This fluid, produced in the prostate, is stored with sperm in the seminal vesicles. When the male climaxes, muscular contractions cause the prostate to secrete this fluid into the urethra, where it is expelled from the body through the penis.
In addition to the prostate’s role in producing ejaculate, it also plays a part in controlling the flow of urine. The prostate wraps itself around the urethra as it passes from the bladder to the penis. Muscular fibers in the prostate contract to slow the flow of urine.
As well, the prostate produces a protein called prostate specific antigen (PSA). PSA is released with the ejaculatory fluid and can also be traced in the blood stream. The testing of PSA levels in the blood is used to detect prostate cancer. The level of PSA in the blood is usually measured in nano grams of PSA per milliliter of blood (ng/ml).
A raised PSA level
A raised PSA level can be a sign of one of the following problems:
An enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia)
Inflammation or infection of the prostate (prostatitis)
A urine infection
Around 75% of men that have a high PSA level do not have prostate cancer. On the other hand, some men with prostate cancer have a normal PSA level. Your doctor will take into consideration other factors, such as family history, and will have you undergo other tests, such as a digital rectal exam, before deciding whether you should consult a specialist.
Why treatments can affect the prostate
The prostate is close to parts of the digestive, urinary and reproductive systems. As a result, prostate cancer and its treatments can affect these systems. For example, an enlarged prostate can press on and block the urethra, which can cause problems urinating. Radiation therapy for prostate cancer can affect the rectum and cause bowel problems. Surgery to remove prostate cancer can affect nerves that supply the bladder and penis, which can affect urinary and sexual function.