The prostate gland is part of the male reproductive system, but its definition and purpose encompass more than that.
Prostate comes from the Greek word “prostates,” which means to stand before. According to MedicineNet.com
, Herophilus, the Greek physician and anatomist, named it the prostate because it stands before the testes, which produce the fluid discharged into the urethra during ejaculation for reproduction.
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The chestnut-sized gland actually has some 30 to 50 glands within it that contain smooth muscles.
Its location between the bladder and the penis, and position in front of the rectum, involves the prostate in several functions. The urethra runs through it to allow urine to exit the body from the bladder to the penis.
The prostate’s main purpose is to secrete fluid to protect and nourish sperm. The gland moves fluid into the urethra during ejaculation to produce semen for male reproduction.
Disorders can affect the prostate throughout a man’s life. Prostatitis occurs when the gland becomes inflamed or infected. An enlarged prostate, called benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH, can cause urinary difficulties as a man ages, usually after age 50. Prostate cancer is a common cancer for men.
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Urinary problems may suggest an enlarged prostate or prostate cancer, which have similar symptoms. They include difficulty urinating or the need to urinate frequently. The location of the prostate near the bladder and the pressure from an enlarged prostate affects the urinary tract.
Examining the prostate helps detect prostatitis, an enlarged prostate, and possibly prostate cancer. The prostate is located near the rectum, so a doctor performs a digital rectal exam using a gloved finger in the lower rectum to check the size of the prostate or unusual changes to the gland. The exam may also test fecal matter as part of a screening for colorectal cancer, according to MedlinePlus
, an information site for the National Institutes of Health.
Medication is used for prostatitis or an enlarged prostate. Surgery is sometimes recommended for BPH to reduce the gland’s size. Medication and surgery are also used for prostate cancer.
The definition of a prostate often focuses on its male reproductive nature, but it also provides vital information on men’s health for medical purposes.
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