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Men’s Health: Prostate Health

The prostate gland isn’t that big – about the size of a walnut – but it plays an important role in men’s reproductive health. Located below the bladder and in front of the rectum, it wraps around the upper part of the urethra, which carries urine out of the body. Because of its placement, the prostate can affect urination and sexual function. The urology team at SSM Health provides expert prostate care, working with you to find the best individualized treatment for your prostate condition.

There are three main conditions that affect the prostate gland:

  • Prostatitis
  • Benign prostatic hyperplasia
  • Prostate cancer


Prostatitis is a swelling, inflammation or infection of the prostate gland. It can cause burning or painful urination, the urgent need to urinate, difficult or painful ejaculation, or pain in the area between the scrotum and rectum or in the lower back. It can occur to men at any age and should not be confused with cancer. There are four types of prostatitis:

  • Acute bacterial prostatitis
  • Asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis
  • Chronic bacterial prostatitis
  • Chronic prostatitis

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia

Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is an aging-related enlargement of the prostate gland. Over 80% of men will develop benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) at some point, and 50% of those men will develop it by the age of 50.

As men age, the prostate continues to grow. When you have BPH, pressure is put on the bladder and urethra, which weakens and irritates the bladder. This often results in frequent urination, an urgency to urinate, decreased flow or feeling like your bladder is still full after urinating.

If left untreated, BPH can lead to incontinence, stones, bladder damage or infection. It is crucial to get treatment to avoid damage to your kidneys or other serious conditions.

Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in men - about 1 in 7 will be diagnosed during his lifetime - and is the second-leading cause of cancer death in men. It is also one of the most treatable cancers, which is why it is crucial to seek annual screening and early diagnosis.

Symptoms are similar to BPH, and some men may not even experience any symptoms. A prostate exam (digital rectal exam) and a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test are used to screen for prostate cancer. The PSA test measures the amount of a protein in your blood that is only produced by prostate tissue, called prostate-specific antigens.

Connect with a Physician

The decision to have regular screening is a personal choice that depends on many factors, including age, level or risk, and family history. It’s important to speak with your SSM Health provider about any symptoms you are experiencing, concerns you may have, and the potential benefits of regular screening. Your physician can also discuss ways to optimize your health so you can get the most out of life.

Our health care professionals offer the latest in prevention, detection and treatment of prostate-related health conditions. These are some of the most common conditions affecting men - and in many cases when detected early, can be treated. Find a provider to schedule an appointment today to learn more about what you can do to protect your prostate health.

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