Fact Checked

Facts About Prostate & Its Related Problems You Need To Know

Normal Prostate Size

Normal Prostate Size - (Image Credit: Shutterstock)

30-Second-Summary
  • The prostate is a small soft organ in the male reproductive system that grows as you age.
  • By producing prostatic fluid, the prostate helps make semen. Semen helps carry sperm cells from your testicles as you ejaculate.
  • The prostate is just below the bladder and surrounds the urethra. The urethra carries urine from the bladder to the penis. Also, the urethra carries semen during ejaculation.
  • Prostate volume increases with age, from about 25mls to even 100ml in some cases.
  • In rare cases, some medical complications like benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH)may cause enlargement in people in their 30s.

What Is The prostate?

The prostate gland is an organ of the male reproductive system. It is a small soft organ about the size of a walnut. Additionally, the prostate lies between the bladder and the penis, and the prostate surrounds part of the urethra, which carries urine from your bladder to the penis. The prostate contains muscle tissue and glandular tissue.

The glandular tissue secretes substances that nourish sperm cells. Though you can survive without the prostate, you can’t bear children since the prostate contains fluids that make semen. Semen is a fluid that sperm cells live in. The prostate produces the enzyme prostate-specific antigen, which helps make semen less thick and more fluid.

The prostate is among the many male reproductive organs, that includes the testes, scrotum, and penis. An enlarged prostate due to benign prostate hyperplasia[1] may constrict the urethra. Contraction of the urethra makes your urine flow reduce. In severe cases, you may require surgery to allow urine to flow out of the body without straining.

What Are Some Functions Of The Prostate?

Functions Of The Prostate

Although you can survive without a prostate, you won’t bear children. Below are some of the functions of the prostate.

1. Closes The Urethra During Ejaculation

The prostate surrounds the urethra. During ejaculation, the prostate secretes prostatic fluid[2] into the urethra as it contracts. The prostatic fluid mixes with sperm cells and other fluids to create semen that the body secretes.

Contraction of the prostate due to more than normal prostate size blocks the passage of urine from the bladder to the urethra. The contraction of the prostate also pushes semen at speed, making it impossible to urinate and ejaculate at once.

2. Produces Hormones

To function properly, the prostate must interact with male hormones such as testosterone. The prostate contains an enzyme called 5-alpha that activates testosterone to its biologically active form called dihydrotestosterone (DHT)[3]. This hormone helps the development of secondary sex characteristics.

3. Help Produce Semen

The main function of the prostate on a man is to secrete prostatic fluid into semen to make it more fluid-like. The prostatic fluid contains zinc, citric acid, and enzymes, which make semen the best environment for sperm cells to thrive. The most important enzyme is prostate-specific-antigen, and this enzyme makes the semen thinner. Prostatic fluid is slightly acidic. Still, other components of semen make it alkaline to neutralize the acidity of the vagina and keep sperm safe.

Symptoms Of Prostate Problems

1. Prostate issues cause problems with the bladder and urination. If you are having trouble when starting to urinate, it might be a sign of an enlarged prostate. Also, if you urinate several times, especially at night, you may have a prostate condition. Other similar symptoms include:

  • You feel the need to pee without feeling the build-up sensation.
  • You strain before you get the flow going.

2. Prostate conditions may affect your sexual function. So, look out for sexual dysfunction or erectile dysfunction, which may be related to your prostate.

3. Other prostate problems may cause bladder stones or urinary infections.

4. Additionally, some problems may lead to kidney failure. Equally important, note the following symptoms because they may be related to the prostate.

  • Blood in urine
  • Fever and body aches
  • Pain after ejaculation or while urinating
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Discomfort in the penis and the scrotum
  • Unusual color in urine

Where Is The Prostate On A Man?

Prostate On A Man

As discussed earlier, the prostate is a male gland found underneath the bladder, just in front of your rectum. The prostate is inside the groin or pelvis at the base of the penis. The prostate normal size is about the size of a chestnut or walnut, weighing approximately 11 grams.

It surrounds the urethra. So, it may press and contract the urethra if the prostate enlarges. The prostatic capsule or prostatic fascia muscles cover the prostate.

The prostate normal size increases as you age, a process known as BPH. BPH allows the gland to grow in size without becoming cancerous. The larger the prostate is, the more it covers the urethra making it narrow. The location of the prostate on a man makes it helpful in blocking urine during ejaculation.

When ejaculation is about to take place, the prostate contracts. This contraction blocks the passage of urine from the bladder to the urethra. The contraction of the prostate gland also helps push sperm together with semen to the penis. The prostate gland produces prostatic fluid, which makes semen more fluid to flow together with the sperm cells.

The Normal Prostate Size By Age?

Normally, the prostate on a man remains constant for up to 40 years. However, the size varies for different individuals. The size of the prostate by age 40 is about the size of a walnut. That is, a prostate normal size of about 3x3x5 cm (or 25ml volume) when you take length, height, and width into account.

The small-size prostate weight ranges between 20-70 grams. The medium prostate size is 20-125 grams, while the large prostate size is 40-125gms. For many men, the prostate increases in size with advancing age.

Indeed, one credible study[4] involving 762 men found that the width, height, and length of the prostate increased by 2.4%, 2.1%, and 3.5%, respectively, in age groups 40-49 and 50-59 years.

Similar enlargements were observed from age 60 to 70, with percentage increases of 2.5, 3.6, and 5.7 in width, height, and length, respectively. In short, by Age 60, many studies say the prostate on a man enlarges to the size of a lemon and slightly larger by age 70 and above.

To sum it up, the table below shows the average normal prostate size of human males based on a study of 762 males of 3 age groups. The study shows the variance in three dimensions: width, height, and length relative to age.

Table 1: Size of the prostate on a man with advancing age and average mean standard deviations

Age Group 1 (40–49 years) Group 2 (50–59 years) Increase from Group 1 to Group 2 (%) Group 3 (60–70 years) Increase from Group 2 to Group 3 (%) P
Width (mm) 44.45±4.67 45.53±4.70 2.4 46.69±5.10 2.5 0.0134
Height (mm) 31.66±4.38 32.34±4.60 2.1 33.50±5.91 3.6 0.0471
Length (mm) 37.55±4.27 38.89±4.64 3.5 41.13±6.18 5.7 0.0002
TPV (mm) 28.17±8.75 30.83±9.64 9.4 35.03±17.41 13.6 0.0023
TZW (mm) 30.25±4.84 31.92±5.15 5.5 34.21±7.08 7.2 0.0001
TZH (mm) 21.64±3.73 23.24±4.58 7.4 25.02±6.07 7.7 0.0001
TZL (mm) 25.24±4.03 27.20±4.46 7.8 29.43±6.24 8.2 <0.0001
TZV (mm) 8.95±3.88 11.15±5.95 24.6 14.92±13.49 33.8 0.0001

Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3739117/

Meaning of abbreviations used in the table: TPV, total prostate volume; TZW, transition zone width TZH, transition zone height; TZL, transition zone length; TZV, transition zone volume.

What Is The Normal Prostate Volume With Age?

As shown in the table, the average prostate on a man changes with age. Increasing the width, length, and height of the prostate increases prostate volume. As such, many urologists describe the prostate in terms of volume and not weight.

On average, the normal prostate volume is 20cm3, but it ranges between 15cm3 to 30cm3. In milliliters, a small prostate volume is from 30-40ml, while a medium one is 40-80ml. A normal prostate volume for a large prostate is approximately 40-100ml.

Specifically, normal prostate volume increases with increasing age, and prostate volume increases in men aged 40 and above. However, even men in their thirties can experience this change too.

From the study quoted above in Table 1, the total prostate volume varied with age. For instance, total prostate volume averaged 28 ml at age 40-49 years. The 50-59years age group normal prostate size in volume changed to 31ml.

The normal prostate volume changed to over 35ml for the 60-70 years age group. Still, the prostate volume varies with different individuals, though few men maintain an average prostate size.

Similarly, another study with 1763 participants showed related results about the average normal prostate volume with increasing age. Specifically, the mean total prostate volume rose from 24-40 cubic centimeters for advancing ages 50-80 progressively.

Still, a prostate with larger than normal prostate volume could signal benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). BPH causes urinary problems and problems when emptying your bladder. In essence, people with an enlarged prostate have a thickened bladder. In short, the enlarged prostate contracts the urethra.

Thickened bladder

Who May Get An Enlarged Prostate?

Enlargement of the prostate beyond prostate normal size is known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). BPH is a common problem in men, and there’s no way you can help prevent it. Anyone can suffer from an enlarged prostate, but age and family history increase your chances of having BPH.

An enlarged prostate on a man is the most common prostate problem for men over the age of 50. When the prostate becomes enlarged, it presses against the urethra, causing it to narrow. A narrow urethra makes you experience difficulties when urinating and emptying the bladder. An enlarged prostate makes it very hard to urinate. In extreme cases, it can even inhibit urination completely.

Studies show that 80% of men get enlarged prostates. However, only 30% of those with enlarged prostates find bothersome symptoms. The prostate gets larger as you age, and that is why most males over age 80 have BPH.

Frequently Asked Questions

The prostate is found just below the bladder and between the bladder and the penis.

A man can live without his prostate. However, without a prostate, a man cannot be fertile. The prostate helps make semen more fluid-like. Also, the prostate helps ensure that urine cannot come out during ejaculation.

Several prostate conditions can affect you. The most common is prostate enlargement. Prostate enlargement is most common in older men because the prostate enlarges with age. Other prostate problems include prostate cancer and prostatitis.

Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)[5] occurs when the cells of a prostate start multiplying. Multiplication of the cells causes your prostate gland to swell and presses the urethra, making it contract.

You can access the prostate externally. You can feel the prostate by placing a finger into the rectum and pressing it towards the front of the body. There are even prostate massage treatments where the masseur massages your prostate by pressing different points on your perineum.

You can find the prostate externally or internally. Massage on the prostate feels good regardless of whether you access the prostate internally or externally.

Conclusion

The prostate is a gland in the male reproductive system between the bladder and the penis, and it is soft and small in size. You can touch the prostate on a man if you place your finger in the rectum towards the front.

Notably, the normal prostate size in a man remains constant till age 40 when it starts to enlarge with age. Fortunately, having a functioning prostate is not essential for your survival.

Nevertheless, the function of the prostate is necessary for fertilization since it produces a hormone that makes the semen fluid. The prostate produces prostatic fluid that helps make semen an ideal environment for sperm to live. Plus, the prostate gland is linked to several conditions that can affect your health.

Just like normal prostate size, the normal prostate volume increases from approximately 24-40 cubic centimeters from 50 to 80 years progressively. BPH is the most common problem caused by the rapid growth of the prostate beyond the prostate normal size. BPH has symptoms such as pain when urinating or the inability to empty your bladder.

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