Everybody is different, but one thing that all men have in common is a prostate gland. Located below the bladder, the walnut-sized gland is the key to a man's sex life, producing some of the fluid found in semen while at the same time nourishing sperm. The prostate fluid also forms the majority of a man's ejaculate volume.
Yet even though the prostate has a major role to play in a male's sexual activities, not many are aware of its purposes and importance. Indeed, according to a survey conducted by Prostate Cancer UK, 70 per cent of men know nothing about the gland or what the symptoms are which could suggest they have developed cancer in their prostate.
And as one of the charity's spokespeople John Neate explains in the NHS Live Well Section, it's vital that men understand their prostate if they are to pick up on certain warning signs which could suggest they have other health problems. "We certainly don't want men to panic about getting prostate cancer, but we do want far more to be aware of their risk of this disease and their health in general," he says.
Here we'll take a look at a few prostate facts and also consider certain issues which could indicate that you should see a specialist for some advice on the health of your gland.
Prostates and the ageing process:
One thing important to realise is that the prostate often enlarges as men get older, simply as a result of the natural ageing process. For two-third of men who are aged 50 or over this isn't a problem, but in some cases the gland can be affected by certain infections and the swelling can lead to urinary problems.
Issues with the prostate:
Prostatitis is a common problem linked to prostate enlargement, and this occurs when the gland inflames as a result of infection. The condition can make urinating painful, but isn't necessarily serious.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia is another issue that is linked to an enlarged prostate, and this is because the swelling can mean the gland pushes on the tube which carries urine away from the bladder. In most cases this causes nothing more than some simple urinary problems.
Cancer of the prostate often advances very slowly, and it is only in 20 per cent of cases that the cancer cells will develop quickly and spread to other areas of the body.
In the other 80 per cent of instances of the disease, it may stay undiagnosed because it never causes any symptoms or problems and does not show any signs of spreading to affect other tissue or the bones.
As with standard prostate enlargement, the risk of getting cancer in the gland increases as you get older, with most men who are diagnosed with the disease being over the age of 50.
Common symptoms can include needing to urinate often, difficulty starting to urinate and pain when urinating or during sex. If you notice any of these signs, it is important to see a medical professional who will be able to properly assess your symptoms.