Most people are unaware of the function of the prostate gland. So what does the prostate do? This is a gland that only men have and that is important to reproductive health. This is why it is important to take care of your prostate gland so you don't suffer from any type of possible fertility problems.
What Is the Prostate?
The prostate gland is a reproductive gland found only in men. It is a walnut-sized gland that sits just beneath the bladder and directly in front of the rectum. The male urethra travels through the middle of the gland and extends from the bladder to the tip of the urethra, which allows the urine pass from the bladder to the outside.
As mentioned, the prostate gland in a younger male is about walnut-sized. The size of the prostate gland increases as a man ages, especially when the man reaches the age of 40 to 50 years of age. An enlarged prostate gland can affect the way a man urinates.
While it is easy to identify the testes and the penis, you can't feel or see the prostate gland yourself. Only by doing a digital rectal examination can see the prostate gland and detect its size.
What Does the Prostate Do?
The prostate gland basically does three separate jobs. First, it surrounds the urethra and has muscular fibers that gently squeeze the male urethra in order to control the way the urine flows.
Second, it produces fluids that are important to the semen and are added to the sperm when the male ejaculates. The micro-anatomy of the prostate gland involves thousands of glands that produce seminal fluid that are mixed in with blood vessels and smooth muscle tissue. About 80 percent of the seminal fluid is derived from the prostate gland. Sperm cells travel from the testicles through the vas deferens and then to the prostate gland where the cells mix in with the prostatic fluid. Just above the prostate gland are the seminal vesicles. Their job is to store the sperm cells and the ejaculatory fluid. The seminal vesicles are actually a part of the prostate gland itself.
Lastly, the prostate gland is related to male hormone metabolism. In the prostate gland, testosterone, the major male hormone, is converted into its active form, known as dihydrotestosterone or DHT.
How to Maintain the Health of Prostate
Now that you know "what does the prostate do", you may want to know how to keep it healthy. The prostate gland is an important but it can cause problems, especially as a man ages. Common conditions of the prostate gland are benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), acute bacterial prostatitis, chronic bacterial prostatitis and prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is most common in men over the age of 50 and is more common among African-American men and men who tend to eat foods that are fatty in nature. Prostate problems tend to be hereditary, so those who have a sibling or father with prostate cancer are at a greater risk of getting it. To avoid more risks and keep it healthy, you can:
- Have the blood checked for prostate problems. There is a blood test for prostatic hypertrophy and prostate cancer called the prostate specific antigen or PSA. This can detect enlargement of the prostate gland and prostate cancer before you have symptoms. You should have your PSA level checked each year.
- Get a digital rectal examination. A digital rectal examination is done by your doctor. It only takes a few seconds and will tell the doctor the size of your prostate gland and whether or not there are nodules suggestive of cancer on the gland. Both the PSA and a digital rectal examination are recommended as ways to screen for prostate problems.
- Look at your family history. Because prostate cancer tends to be hereditary, take a look at your family history to know if anyone has had cancer of the prostate. If there are, you should be vigilant about getting your gland checked regularly.
- Eat plenty of vegetables. There is no solid evidence linking prostate health with what you eat, but eating vegetables that are high in antioxidants and low in fat is believed to be one way of avoiding prostate problems in later life. The linkage is still not clear, but it is known that men in Japan who eat less animal fat than Americans have a lesser chance of getting prostate cancer.
- Try herbs. There are herbal remedies that seem to help in prostate health. Try taking saw palmetto if you have prostate symptoms, because it appears to relax the prostate gland so you have fewer symptoms.
- Practice relaxation. About one in six men will have prostate cancer in their lives, but only 3 out of 100 men will die of the disease. Prostate cancer is very slow growing and, if you have the non-aggressive type of the disease, you can relax because it is unlikely that you will die from it.
- Get regular exercise. Getting exercise is good for many aspects of your health, including prostate health. Research suggests that moderate exercise can help your prostate remain healthy.
- Do Kegel exercises. You can do Kegel exercises by contracting the pelvic floor muscles. This will tighten these muscles so that you will have less urine dribbling, a common prostate problem.
The following video is yoga therapy that may also help for maintaining the health of your prostate.