For men’s health month, get to know your prostate!
Prostates are a focus of Men’s Health Month because they are an organ that only men have. Your prostate is a gland situated between the penis and the bladder. It produces fluid that mixes with sperm to make seminal fluid.
The prostate is normally the size and shape of a walnut — but that depends what you mean by “normal.” The prostate tends to get larger as men age. It is not unusual for a man in his 60s to have a prostate the size and shape of a lemon.
Three common prostate problems
Prostatis is the name for inflammation of the prostate. It can be caused by infection or injury, or sometimes by autoimmune disorders. It involes swelling of the gland, and can cause painful urination. This condition can usually be treated with antibiotics. Only 5 to 10 percent of men develop prostatis, and it is usually seen in men under age 50.
Benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) is the name for an enlarged prostate. Almost all men experience BPH as they get older. 90% of men over 70 have this condition. It can be painful and it can cause difficulty urinating. It’s more common in men who have family members with the condition. It can’t be prevented. However, many men are not bothered by the symptoms of this condition.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer after skin cancer among American men, and the second most common cause of death from cancer, behind lung cancer. About 1 man in 8 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. However, only 1 man of 36 who are diagnosed with prostate cancer will die from it.
Prostate cancer is more common in older men; the average age of diagnosis is 66. The condition is rarely seen in men under 40.
It is much more common in Black men than in white men.
Reduce your risk
Prostate cancer can’t be prevented, and some risk factors are not under your control. However, you may be able to reduce your chances of developing prostate cancer. Reduce your risk of prostate cancer with lifestyle choices:
- Don’t smoke.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Make regular exercise part of your life.
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Avoid processed foods.