The prostate gland is a male reproductive organ that produces alkaline fluids to nourish and transport sperm. While prostate issues are more common in men over the age of 50, they can affect men of all ages. Here are three common prostate problems that you need to know about.
1. Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)
Benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH) is the non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate. When the prostate enlarges, it causes the urethra to narrow and the bladder to contract more forcefully to expel urine from the body. As time passes, the bladder muscle may become more sensitive, resulting in urinary frequency. BPH can also result in acute urinary retention, which happens when the bladder muscle can no longer overcome the strain of the narrowed urethra.
A man’s chances of developing an enlarged prostate increase with age. Here are some symptoms to look out for:
- A change in urine flow, such as having a hard time getting started, having a weak stream, and dribbling when you finish.
- Frequent urination
- Waking up several times at night to urinate
While BPH does not lead to prostate cancer, it can lead to complications like kidney damage. If you are developing recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs), notice blood in your urine, or experience a complete inability to urinate, please see a doctor immediately.
Depending on the severity of your condition, your doctor may prescribe medications to relax your bladder muscles, or minimally invasive procedures to remove part of your prostate.
2. Prostate cancer
Prostate cancer is the second most frequently diagnosed cancer in men worldwide, after lung cancer. Early-stage prostate cancer often presents no symptoms, and when symptoms occur, they may be similar to those of an enlarged prostate. Symptoms of prostate cancer may include:
- A dull pain in the lower pelvic area
- Frequent urination
- Blood in the urine
- Painful ejaculation
- Experiencing difficulty or pain when urinating
- Lower back, hip and upper thigh pain
- Appetite and weight loss
While there are no known causes of prostate cancer, there are several risk factors that increase the risk of developing prostate cancer, including:
- Age. Prostate cancer is rarely diagnosed in men under the age of 40 but becomes prevalent in men over the age of 50.
- Ethnicity. African American men are more likely to get prostate cancer than men of other ethnicities, such as Hispanic and Asian men. The reason behind this is unclear, but it may be due to diet, environmental and socioeconomic factors.
- Family history. Men with an immediate family member who has had prostate cancer are two to three times more likely to develop the condition.
- Smoking. Research has shown that smokers have an increased risk of prostate cancer.
- Obesity. Studies have shown a higher incidence of fatal prostate cancer in obese men than in non-obese men.
If you are over the age of 50 or have one of the risk factors mentioned above, you are recommended to go for a prostate screening. Please don’t be concerned about seeing the doctor – we regularly see men with prostate concerns. We have both male and female doctors.
Unlike most prostate problems, prostatitis, or prostate inflammation, is more common in men between the ages of 30 and 50. There are two main types of prostatitis: acute and chronic. Acute prostatitis is usually caused by bacteria in the urinary tract that enters the prostate, and symptoms are severe and manifest suddenly. On the other hand, the causes of chronic prostatitis are usually unknown, and symptoms may come and go over several months.
Symptoms of prostatitis include:
- Pain in or around the penis, testicles, anus, lower abdomen or lower back
- Pain during urination
- Frequent urination, especially at night
- Bloody or cloudy urine
- Pain during ejaculation
- Inability to urinate
If you experience any of the above symptoms, please see your doctor immediately.
How to keep the prostate healthy
While prostate issues can be part of aging, there are steps that you can take to delay their onset:
- Having a healthy, balanced diet low in saturated fat and with lots of fruits and vegetables.
- Exercising good personal hygiene, such as keeping the penis clean.
- Maintaining a healthy weight.
We have two male doctors at Osler Health: Dr Neil Forrest is based at our Star Vista clinic and Dr Peter Chiu is based at our Raffles Hotel Arcade clinic. If you have any concerns about your prostate health, Osler Health can help. Call or Whatsapp us.