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Prostate Health

The purpose of the prostate gland, a small organ located below a man's bladder, is to secrete semen. Common prostate problems run from enlarged prostate to cancer. But you can ensure your prostate health with a good diet and regular physical exams.

Learn About The Prostate

A normal prostate in a man under age 45 is about the size of a chestnut. The urethra (the tube urine flows through) runs right through the center of the gland. After age 45, the prostate often enlarges. While this is normal, it squeezes the urethra, forcing the bladder to work harder, preventing the bladder from emptying completely, or making urination painful.

Recognize Prostate Trouble

There are several symptoms of prostate trouble. You may urinate more frequently, especially in the middle of the night. Urination may be more difficult, uneven, or unintentional. You may have blood in your urine. If you have prostatitis-an infected prostate you'll feel burning when you urinate or ejaculate. You may feel pain in your upper thighs, lower back, or pelvis. These symptoms often indicate nothing more than normal enlargement as you age. They can be the result of other factors, for example, if you've been drinking more liquids, or have been under extra stress. Prostate cancer can also cause these symptoms, but can be symptomless, too. You are at higher risk for prostate cancer than other men if you are over 55, you are black, or you are married.

Physical Exams

After age 45, see your doctor each year for a rectal exam. This quick, painless exam involves your doctor using his finger to feel your prostate. Nearly all prostate cancers can be felt in this way. Other tests can help your doctor diagnose additional prostate problems. In most cases, if you have a prostate disorder, once it's treated, your sexual performance and ability to hold urine will not be affected. Even if surgery is required, new techniques can leave intact the nerves which cause erection.

Prevent Prostate Trouble

You can keep prostate trouble to a minimum. The most important prevention tool is your yearly exam. High fat diets and exposure to cadmium have been linked to prostate cancer, so reduce the fats in your diet. If you are a welder, rubber worker, electroplater, alkaline-battery worker or are otherwise exposed to cadmium, wear protective equipment. Prostate problems are common, but you can help prevent them as you mature if you make the effort.


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