One of the oldest medical jokes in any film or TV show involves someone visiting a doctor’s office. The gag will typically involve a doctor putting on a rubber glove and asking the patient to bend over. While it is used for cheap humour, there is some truth that many men will feel very uncomfortable talking about, or simply getting to understand, their prostate.
To say it is something that most men wouldn’t know where to start describing is something of an understatement, especially with most men not really getting to know their prostate until an older age. I’m based in the UK, where (according to Prostate Cancer UK) over 47,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year. While it can remain “out of sight, out of mind”, demystifying what we think of the prostate is important. Let’s look at some of the key things to know about the prostate, and why men shouldn’t be afraid to ask their doctor for advice.
Knowing exactly what the prostate does
Imagine growing up your whole life, having something inside your body, and not knowing what it does? That’s the reality for many men when you get to talking about the prostate. It is a gland which helps the boys make semen. It sits like a doughnut ring around the urethra (which can cause problems I’ll get to later).
Knowing if you’re at risk
The majority of men diagnosed with prostate problems are over the age of 50. The “risk” of having a prostate problem or prostate cancer is simply down to the fact that the prostate gets larger as men get older. Like most cancers, there are no specific through-lines that can be pointed to as causes for prostate cancer, but there are risk factors like age.
Other factors would include a family history of prostate problems, being overweight, and ethnicity (black men are more likely to have prostate problems)
Knowing when the prostate has problems
For most men who have a prostate issue, it is most likely they have an enlarged prostate. In fact, it is so common that roughly 1 in 3 men experiences an enlarged prostate (also referred to as benign prostatic hyperplasia). Luckily, most prostate problems are not hard to figure out, as it will be most noticeable from toilet behaviour changing.
When men notice that it takes longer to urinate, the sensation to go to the toilet is greater, and there are problems “emptying” after going to the toilet, they should go see a doctor.
Knowing how to diagnose prostate problems
Figuring out if a male has prostate problems is quite simple. The physical examination is the first port of call, but a doctor will usually also ask for blood and urine tests. This helps them see if the problem is something else, like an infection or if the kidneys are having problems. For more information on how enlarged prostates are investigated, we recommend visiting the Birmingham Prostate Clinic website here.
Knowing how to treat an enlarged prostate
When problems are found, treatment options are thankfully quite straightforward. A doctor will most likely tell a patient that active monitoring is needed alongside a prescribed course of medicine. This is done first to see if the medicine will help the prostate relax and relieve patient symptoms. If symptoms persist, surgery may be recommended. Surgery now tends to take the form of laser surgery, where lasers can take away excess prostate tissue without anything needing cut away. Prostate surgery used to be quite invasive, but laser technology now makes it a minimally invasive procedure.
Any man getting prostate surgery would expect a recovery period of around a month. A doctor will let a patient know what specific side-effects to expect.
Knowing how common this is all
I hope you found this brief look at the prostate a good insight into why every man needs to get theirs checked out. For more advice on overall health, check out the latest health articles from the site here.