As men get into their 40s and 50s, many biological changes start to take place. This is partially based on your physical and dietary habits, but many are simply the result of getting older.
These changes can be especially problematic in the urinary and reproductive systems, including the prostate gland. While you may not give much thought you your prostate health when your’e younger, it’s a common site of serious and even life-threatening health problems. Having it looked at regularly to detect issues while they’re easily treatable can save your life.
If you live in the Fort Lauderdale, Pompano Beach, or Greater South Florida areas and you’re dealing with prostate problems, help is available. Drs. Craig Herman and Steven Kester of the Urology Center of Florida have over 25 years of experience treating a variety of urological issues, including those affecting the prostate.
What does the prostate gland do?
Your prostate gland is about the size of a ping pong ball, located between the base of your penis and your rectum. This small, rubbery organ is important to producing the seminal fluids that mix with sperm in your testes. This fluid protects and nourishes its sperm, helping to ensure its survival.
The prostate is also located just below the urinary bladder (where urine is stored before it leaves the body) and urethra (the tube urine leaves the body through). Though it does not have a direct role in urinary function, issues with your prostate can affect urination because of their proximity to these parts of your anatomy.
What can happen to it as you get older?
Age increases the risk of several conditions in the prostate:
Enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hypertrophy, or BPH)
Over time (usually in your 40’s and 50’s) you may experience an enlarged prostate, which can affect ejaculation and urination. As the prostate gets larger, the risk increases of it pressing more on the urinary bladder and urethra, which can block the flow of urine or make you need to urinate more often. This can lead to complications including urinary tract infections (UTIs).
Prostatitis, or inflammation of your prostate, can also cause similar problems to BPH. This condition is often the result of bacterial infection, and if it lasts longer than three months it can become chronic. Chronic prostatitis affects 10-15% of the male population and may require longer, more complex treatment to resolve than acute or short-term prostatitis.
Prostate cancer is the result of cells in the prostate growing out of control, and usually grow from gland cells. This is the second most common form of cancer in men (skin cancer is the first) and affects 1 in 8 men. It is also the second leading cause of death, behind lung cancer. Prostate cancer becomes more common in men over 65 (on average, men get it around age 66) as 6 out of 10 cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed around that age range. Though prostate cancer develops slowly, certain forms are more aggressive.
How can routine exams help?
Since prostate problems generally typically don’t emerge until men reach their 40s or later, n doctors don’t usually recommend regular exams for most people until then. Prostate exams can help detect conditions early, which will allow your doctor to treat them early on. The American Cancer Society suggests getting tested around age 50 for most men, but men with a family history prostate cancer should be checked as early as age 40. Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns about your prostate health risks.
Tests for prostate health include of rectal examinations, ultrasounds, MRI imaging, prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood tests, and if cancer is suspected, a biopsy of the prostate.
As you get older, staying on top of your health is important. Routine exams can help keep you healthy, and even save your life. If you haven’t had an exam, make an appointment with Drs. Herman and Kester of the Urology Center of Florida today to stay healthy.