The prostate is a walnut shaped gland responsible for producing semen in a man’s reproductive system. Enlargement of this gland is pretty typical, as most men experience some enlargement of the prostate as they age. Statistically, about 50% of men experience symptoms of an enlarged prostate by age 60, and 90% of men report symptoms by age 85.
You might be wondering, "If it’s so common, what’s the big deal about having benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)?"
To begin with, a healthy prostate is important in supporting sperm nourishment and transport. When a man ejaculates, the prostate produces the semen that propels the sperm. In a post-pubescent male, the prostate is about the size of a walnut and stays that way until age 40. For a still unknown reason, the prostate experiences a second growth spurt and can grow to the size of an apricot or even a lemon.
When you take into account that the prostate gland is located just below the bladder at the site where the urethra connects, you can start to see how this can become a serious issue. The enlarged prostate begins to interfere with the urethra, the tube inside the penis that carries urine and semen out of the body. The pressure can block the natural flow of urine (and semen) causing irritation. If left untreated, this condition can lead to more serious problems.
There is not a consensus among physicians on exactly why the prostate begins to grow again, though it is widely speculated that an excess of certain hormones may be the catalyst. One study has shown a high correlation between DHT levels (dihydrotestosterone) in the blood and enlarged prostates. Conversely, men with low DHT levels do not experience enlarged prostates.
The best way to combat this growth is to talk to your doctor. Click here to read about some of the potential exams, treatments, and solutions.