Knowledge is Power
Questions & Answers
What is the
The prostate (or prostate gland) is part of a man’s reproductive and urinary systems. It is about the size of a walnut in younger men, but it starts to get larger when men reach their late 40s and early 50s.
The prostate is deep inside a man’s pelvis, below the bladder and in front of the rectum. It wraps around the upper part of the urethra (called the prostatic urethra). The urethra is a tube that carries urine from the bladder, through the prostate and penis, and out of the body.
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.
WHAT DOES THE PROSTATE DO?
The prostate is not essential for life, but it is important for reproduction. The prostate typically grows during one’s teenage years, under the control of the hormone testosterone and its byproduct dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Testosterone is primarily made in the testes, but a smaller amount it is also made in the adrenal glands above the kidneys.
When a man is sexually aroused, the prostate pushes prostatic fluid through the ducts and into the urethra. Prostatic fluid mixes with sperm and other fluids in the urethra and is ejaculated as semen.
Healthy semen is the perfect consistency and environment for sperm transit and survival, and for fertilization. Semen includes enzymes like PSA (which is often measured as part of screening for prostate cancer), as well as other substances made by the seminal vesicles and prostate, such as zinc, citrate, and fructose (that actually gives sperm energy to make the journey to the egg).