The prostate is a sex gland in men. It is about the size of a walnut, and surrounds the neck of the bladder and urethra - the tube that carries urine from the bladder. It is partly muscular and partly glandular, with ducts opening into the prostatic portion of the urethra. It is made up of three lobes: a center lobe with one lobe on each side.
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The prostate gland secretes a slightly alkaline fluid that forms part of the seminal fluid, a fluid that carries sperm.
Most clinical conditions of the prostate are benign (non-cancerous), including the following:
- benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) - an age-related condition of the prostate that is not malignant. BPH is the most common non-cancerous prostate problem, occurring in most men by the time they reach their 60s. Symptoms are slow, interrupted, or weak urinary stream; urgency with leaking or dribbling; and frequent urination, especially at night. Although it is not cancer, BPH symptoms are often similar to those of prostate cancer.
- prostatism - the symptom of decreased urinary force due to obstruction of flow through the prostate gland. The most common cause of prostatism is BPH.
- prostatitis - inflammation or infection of the prostate gland characterized by discomfort, pain, frequent or infrequent urination, and sometimes fever.
- prostatalgia - ;pain in the prostate gland, also called prostatodynia. It is frequently a symptom of prostatitis.
These problems are quite common and may happen to men of all ages. Prostatitis is mainly a problem of men younger than age 50, and BPH primarily affects men older than age 50.