The prostate is a gland the size of a walnut that sits below your bladder and surrounds your urethra (pee tube). It can be felt by inserting a finger into your rectum.
The gland produces most of the fluid in semen and is a highly sensitive organ that provides pleasure when stimulated, for example during receptive anal sex.
- Age-related enlargement.
This occurs in all men as they age. If the gland becomes too large it can block urine flow or cause a weak urine stream and difficulty emptying the bladder completely. It is treated with medication or a small procedure to widen the urine tube. It is not a cancerous condition.
- Prostate cancer.
The risk of prostate cancer increases with age, with men over 45 being at higher risk. Other risks include the use of steroids and having relatives who had a similar cancer. Early prostate cancer does not cause any symptoms so yearly screening is needed to detect it early. If left too late it can cause problems with urine flow and pelvic pain, and can spread to other parts of your body.
- Prostatic infections.
Many of the germs that cause sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can infect the prostate, called prostatitis. This can cause problems passing urine, pelvic or anal pain, pain during sex and sometimes an anal discharge. It can be caused by having unprotected receptive (bottom) anal sex.
What Can You Do?
- All men over 45 years, especially if there is a history of cancer in the family, should be screened for prostate cancer every year. This is done by doing a blood test, called a PSA, and doing an anal (finger) exam to feel the prostate gland to check its size, shape and consistency.
- You can also check your own and your partner’s prostate gland to ensure all is in order by gently feeling it with a lubricated finger inserted in the rectum. Ask your healthcare provider to show you how this is done. If you notice any changes in the gland’s size or texture, consult your healthcare provider immediately. In addition, any difficulty or pain when you urinate should be reported to your healthcare provider as soon as possible.