The prostate gland is mostly tissue rather than a gland; as it is normally referred to. It's the size of a walnut, and is located in the pelvic region. It lies just beneath the outlet of the bladder and in front of the rectum. The urethra that empties urine from the bladder is encircled by the prostate gland and it is a part of the male anatomy.
For its function, the gland requires testosterone that helps in regulating bladder control and normal sexual functioning. Until puberty, the size of the prostate gland remains of the same size and at puberty it grows rapidly and doubles in size. In some cases, medical issues crop up, where in, the gland may grow significantly by the time a man ages 60.
During ejaculation, the liquid that is released, has 30% of its content contributed to by the prostate gland and the remainder of the fluid consists of spermatozoa and seminal vesicle fluid. The prostate gland stores and secretes a fluid (milky or white) that is slightly alkaline (pH 7.29).
The purpose of the alkalinity of the semen is to neutralize the acidity of the vaginal tract. This prolongs the life of the sperm as they make their way through the tract for fertilization. Prostate gland's main function is to produce part of the fluid making up semen and provides a protective medium (alkaline fluid) for the sperm cells to reach the egg.
The prostate gland basically helps in increasing the chances of impregnation by increasing the life span of the sperm that has been ejaculated into the vaginal tract. The gland is also responsible for liquefying sperm immediately after ejaculation, with the aid of an enzyme known as enzyme Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA).
This is done through the manufacture of Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA), that takes place in the prostate gland. To add to this, the gland is also responsible for male ejaculation. The muscles of the gland help in doing so.
Apart from ensuring longevity of the ejaculated sperm, the prostate gland also closes the urethra during sexual intercourse. The prostate muscle known as sphincter causes the bladder to seal while the ejaculation process is going on thus, preventing urination.
However, this function of the gland has been known to create complications in males who cross the age of 50. This is because, as mentioned earlier, the prostate gland may become so large that it may constantly restrict the flow of urine altogether, even when the person does not indulge in any sexual activity.
Men are susceptible to many types of complications pertaining to the prostate gland. Some of them are prostatitis, enlarged prostate, and prostate cancer. Prostatitis occurs due to bacterial infection and results in inflammation of the gland. An enlarged prostate interferes with normal urination, but is a non-cancerous growth of the gland.
Due to this, the affected person may have urgent or a frequent need to urinate, a weak urinary system and urge incontinence (involuntary discharge of urine). The third condition, prostate cancer, is most prevalent in the United States and throughout Europe. It has resulted in many life-threatening situations and even deaths.
This cancer may grow at a slow pace and may remain dormant for many years, until it starts revealing its symptoms such as weight-loss, difficulty in urinating with sharp pain, eating disorders, painful ejaculation and sometimes blood in urine. To diagnose or screen prostate cancer, a medical test is conducted by doctors which is known as a prostate exam.
It is advisable for men, especially those over the age of 50, to have annual check-ups for their prostate glands. Early detection increases chances of treatment and permanent cure of any disorder of the gland.
Inculcating plenty of seasonal fruits, greens, fish and whole grains in the diet, promotes healthy living and improves the functioning of prostate gland. Refraining from processed and fatty foods and having an active lifestyle have helped many men in avoiding any prostate-related disorders and at the same time maintaining prostate health.