The prostate is a sex gland in men. It's about the size of a walnut, and surrounds the neck of the bladder and urethra—the tube that carries urine from the bladder. It's partly muscular and partly glandular, with ducts opening into the prostatic portion of the urethra. It is made up of three lobes: a center lobe with one lobe on each side.
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The prostate gland secretes a slightly alkaline fluid that forms part of the seminal fluid, a fluid that carries sperm.
Most clinical conditions of the prostate are benign (noncancerous), including the following:
- Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). This is an age-related condition of the prostate that isn't malignant. BPH is the most common noncancerous prostate problem, occurring in most men by the time they reach their 60s. Symptoms are slow, interrupted, or weak urinary stream; urgency with leaking or dribbling; and frequent urination, especially at night. Although it isn't cancer, BPH symptoms are often similar to those of prostate cancer.
- Prostatism. This is a decreased urinary force due to obstruction of flow through the prostate gland. The most common cause of prostatism is BPH.
- Prostatitis. This is inflammation or infection of the prostate gland characterized by discomfort, pain, frequent or infrequent urination, and sometimes fever.
- Prostatalgia (also called prostatodynia). This is pain in the prostate gland. It's frequently a symptom of prostatitis.
Prostatitis is mainly a problem of men younger than age 50, and BPH primarily affects men older than age 50.
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