One in five men will experience prostate problems at some point in their lives. The prostate is a small gland situated below the bladder, and a troublesome prostate can cause sexual issues and make it difficult to urinate.
This post outlines the three most common prostate problems: an enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia), prostatitis and prostate cancer.
Here at London Urology, we have a one-stop prostate clinic that treats all prostate problems using advanced surgical therapies and intervention.
What’s the function of the prostate?
The prostate surrounds the top of the urethra, a thin tube that carries urine from the bladder to the penis. The urethra also transports semen, containing sperm, to the penis, from the seminal vesicles. About the size of a walnut, the prostate produces a fluid that mixes with sperm from the testicles, creating semen. This is stored in the seminal vesicles, a pair of tube-shaped glands that sit behind the bladder.
There are three common prostate problems that can cause a range of different issues:
What is it?
An enlarged prostate (BPH) is a common condition that comes with ageing. As a man progresses into middle age, the prostate will naturally grow in size. By the time a male reaches 40, it’s likely the prostate will have grown to the size of an apricot. By the age of 60, it may be the size of a lemon. One in three of all men over the age of 50 will experience symptoms of an enlarged prostate.
While prostate growth is a natural part of ageing, it can cause a number of health issues if it grows too large. An enlarged prostate can put pressure on the urethra, which can affect how you urinate.
Symptoms of an Enlarged Prostate
• Urinating more frequently or more suddenly.
• Waking up repeatedly in the night to urinate.
• A weak urine flow.
• Straining when urinating.
• Difficulty starting or stopping urinating.
• The feeling of not being fully able to empty the bladder.
• Prolonged dribbling after urinating.
Who is most at risk?
The prostate starts to gradually enlarge around the age of 25, but most men won’t experience any difficulties urinating until after the age of 50. It’s estimated that approximately 8 out of 10 men beyond the age of 70 suffer from an enlarged prostate.
What is Prostatitis?
Prostatitis is a term used to describe a set of symptoms resulting from an inflammation or infection in the prostate. It’s a complicated condition, and often doctors cannot pinpoint its cause, making it difficult to treat.
There are two main types of prostatitis:
Chronic prostatitis – symptoms come and go over several months. It’s the most common type of prostatitis and is usually not the result of an infection.
Acute prostatitis – symptoms are severe and sudden. It’s rare but can be serious and requires immediate treatment. An infection always causes it.
Someone may have chronic prostatitis if the following symptoms last longer than three months:
• Pain in and around the penis, testicles, anus, lower abdomen or lower back.
• Pain when urinating.
• A frequent or urgent need to urinate, particularly at night.
• “Stop-start” urinating.
• An enlarged or tender prostate on rectal examination.
• Sexual problems, such as erectile dysfunction, pain when ejaculating, or pelvic pain after sex.
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, you should seek medical attention so the cause can be investigated and the appropriate treatment administered:
• Severe pain in and around the penis, testicles, anus, lower abdomen or lower back. This can make passing stools painful.
• As with chronic prostatitis, problems with urinating frequently at night and “stop-start” urinating. There may also be blood in the urine.
• Not being able to urinate. Known as acute urinary retention, this can lead to a build-up in the bladder and needs urgent medical attention.
• Generally feeling unwell, with aches, pains and possibly a fever.
• A small amount of thick fluid (discharge) may come from the penis.
Who is most at risk?
It can affect men of any age, but it’s most common in younger and middle-aged men, typically between 36 and 50.
What is Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer develops when cells in the prostate multiply in an uncontrolled manner. While it may be one of the most severe prostate problems, the good news is that the disease has a high survival rate of 78% for a decade or longer.
This type of cancer often grows slowly to start with, presenting few signs and symptoms. In some cases, it may never cause any problems. But it can often be the case that prostate cancer will start to spread to the surrounding areas of the body, and the patient would then require immediate treatment.
It’s worth noting that the symptoms associated with prostate cancer are similar to those of an enlarged prostate, prostatitis, diabetes and some medicines. So you must always seek a medical opinion to rule out prostate cancer.
There are few early signs of prostate cancer. A man would only notice any symptoms if the cancer were to grow near and press against the urethra, so you’d notice changes in the way you urinate — although this could also be due to an enlarged prostate.
Possible early symptoms of prostate cancer include:
- Difficulty starting to urinate or emptying the bladder.
- A weak flow when urinating.
- Dribbling urine after urinating.
- Experiencing a sudden urge to urinate and urinating more often, especially at night
If prostate cancer breaks out of the prostate (locally advanced prostate cancer) or spreads to other parts of the body (advanced prostate cancer), it can cause other symptoms, including:
- Back, hip or pelvic pain.
- Problems getting or keeping an erection.
- Blood in the urine or semen.
- Unexplained weight loss.
Who is most at risk?
Prostate cancer mainly affects men over 50. The risk of developing prostate cancer increases as a man gets older. The average age for a man to be diagnosed with prostate cancer is between 65 and 69 years. Those with a family history of prostate cancer or breast cancer may also be slightly more at risk.
Black men are also more likely to get prostate cancer than men of other ethnic backgrounds — scientists are investigating why, but they believe it may be linked to genetic factors. About one in four black men in the UK will get prostate cancer at some point in their lives.
Make an appointment
At London Urology, we specialise in treating prostate problems and offer a dedicated Prostate Clinic that uses advanced surgical therapies and provides rapid intervention. We have a team of specialist Consultants who can offer same-day appointments. For enquiries and appointments please email [email protected] or call 020 7078 3802.
Flexible appointment times are available
Post Updated May 2021