Prostate Problem Guide
The Prostate Gland - What Is It And What Is Its Function?
The prostate gland functions as part of the male reproductive system and is responsible for the production of a clear liquid which makes up about thirty percent of the seminal fluid used to carry and protect the male sperm during intercourse. The prostate gland sits just below the bladder and in front of the rectum, partially surrounding the urethra which carries urine from the bladder out of the body.
During childhood the prostate gland is very small (about the size of a pea) but will grow rapidly during puberty in response to the production of the male hormone testosterone. In a mature male the prostate is typically the size of a walnut and weighs about one ounce.
The prostate gland is divided into the three sections – peripheral, central and transition.
The peripheral section is located at the rear of the prostate gland and is the section of the prostate in which prostatitis and prostate cancer are most likely to develop. The transition section, which lies in the middle of the prostate gland and surrounds the urethra, is the area in which benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is seen.
There are a variety of problems associated with the prostate gland, the most common of which is BPH. This condition, which is a growth of non-cancerous cells within the transition section of the prostate gland causes an enlargement of the gland and exerts pressure on the urethra which, in turn, leads to difficulties in urinating. Other common problems include prostatitis, which is an inflammation or infection of the prostate gland, and prostate cancer.
Enlargement of the prostate gland will affect about half of all men by the time they reach the age of 60 and increases with age to affect some ninety percent of the male population by the age of 80. Prostate cancer will affect approximately seventeen percent of the male population and results in the deaths of over 30,000 men each year in the United States alone.