Mens Health (cont.)

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Prostate problems

The prostate is a unique male organ. It is located beneath the bladder and connects it to the penis. Its function is to produce part of the seminal fluid that is alkaline, which helps lengthen the life span of semen when it enters the vagina. The prostate also has involuntary muscles that contract to help expel semen during ejaculation.

A common condition in men that is part of the normal aging process is benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH or enlarged prostate). The urethra is a tube that passes through the prostate and drains the bladder. A man with an enlarged prostate (BPH) often has difficulty emptying the bladder because the urethra is being compressed by prostatic tissue. This compression of the urethra makes it difficult for the bladder to generate enough pressure to overcome the obstruction (enlarged prostate). Over time, the bladder itself begins to weaken making urination even more difficult.

Symptoms of BPH include:

  • Urinary frequency (urinating more often)
  • Urinary urgency (the feeling that he has to empty the bladder urgently or risk wetting himself)
  • Urinary hesitancy (difficulty starting the urine stream)
  • Urinary straining (requiring more pressure or bearing down to empty the bladder)
  • Poor urine stream and dribbling

Treatment of BPH (which may include medications or surgery) depends upon the man, any underlying medical conditions, and the severity of symptoms.

Picture of the prostate gland
Picture of the prostate gland

Testosterone

Comment on this

Sexual health and function are important parts of a healthy lifestyle. The ability to participate in sexual intercourse depends upon the brain, hormones, nerves, and blood vessels that supply the penis. A variety of mechanisms and feedback loops need to work for an erection to occur. There are numerous causes of erectile dysfunction (ED, impotence) including:

Impotence is also a complication of prostate cancer treatment including surgery and radiation.

Smoking is an independent risk factor for developing impotence.

Treatment of erectile dysfunction depends upon the cause but may include medications (for example, tadalafil [Cialis], sildenafil [Viagra], and vardenafil [Levitra, Staxyn], testosterone replacement therapy and, for some men, prosthetic devices surgically inserted into the penis.

Testosterone levels that are required for puberty, muscle, and bone development in young adulthood gradually decrease over a man's lifetime (sometimes referred to as Low T). Testosterone levels need to be at a certain level to maintain body and brain function. Numerous theories exist about the use of testosterone therapy routinely in older men, but these theories have not been widely accepted. There are however, a few health care practitioners that use testosterone to "prevent aging."

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/28/2014

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