Saturday, March 5, 2011

Meet the Prostate

A great place for a prostate blog to start would be to explain what the prostate actually is and what it does.  The prostate is a gland the size of a walnut (or, at times, a grapefruit) that lives under your bladder.  Imagine the bladder as an upside down jug with a narrow spout.  The prostate is like a donut that sits underneath the bladder and allows urine to flow from the bladder and out the penis.  When the prostate gets enlarged in conditions such as BPH(benign prostatic hypertrophy) the donut hole gets smaller and smaller which lets less and less urine through when you urinate. This smaller donut hole also makes the urine come out slower in men with BPH. 

The prostate is a sexual organ.  Despite popular belief, it does not cause erections, however.  Instead, it is responsible for the production of semen.  Believe it or not, when men ejaculate after sex, most of the semen coming out does not come from the testicles.  In fact, they produce only about 10% of the liquid that is ejaculated.  The reason for this is that the testicles only produce sperm.  The rest of the semen is made of important nutrients and enzymes that protect and nurture the sperm during their journey to find an egg.  The prostate and some nearby organs called the seminal vesicles produce most of the semen.  When men ejaculate, sperm sent from the testicles are released into the donut hole of the prostate, mixed with semen produced by the prostate and seminal vesicles and ejected out of the penis through contraction of some very strong muscles in the pelvis.  This contraction is what gives the feeling of an orgasm.

Ironically, problems with the prostate usually occur long after men really need it.  BPH and Prostate Cancer usually start occurring in men in their fifties, often long after they have any desire to have more children.  By then, the prostate becomes much more of a nuisance than an asset.  Nonetheless, the problems created by the prostate can be overcome as we shall see in forthcoming posts!

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