Despite its hard work, the pelvic region is home to some of the most common issues that men can develop.
Prostate cancer is the most common form of male cancer in the UK. Usually developing slowly so you are not aware for the first few years of its growth.
As you age your risk of developing benign prostate enlargement (BPE) increases. Men over 50 have a 50% chance of developing BPE, and 2 million men are currently receiving treatment for it.
The prostate can also cause a common problem called prostatitis, affecting men of all ages. Your prostate will painful swell which can cause issues of urinary incontinence.
What Is The Prostate?
The prostate is a small gland located in the pelvis between the penis and the bladder. It surrounds the urethra and can put pressure on it if prostate problems develop. Around the size of a walnut, the gland is only found in men and enlarges as you age. The main function of the prostate is to produce a thick, white fluid that, when mixed with sperm produced by the testicles, creates semen.
What Is Prostate Cancer?
When cells in the prostate begin to grow in an uncontrolled manner, prostate cancer can develop. Prostate cancer often grows slowly to begin with, and may never cause you any problems. However, some men have prostate cancer that is more likely to spread, therefore requiring treatment to prevent the spread of the dangerous cells.
What Causes Prostate Cancer?
The direct causes of prostate cancer are widely unknown. Yet, there are certain things that can increase your risk of developing the condition. As you age, your chances of developing prostate cancer increase, with most cases developing in men aged 50 or over. This is because as men get older, their prostate gland enlarges. This is not normally due to prostate cancer, but rather a condition called prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
What Are The Warning Signs of Prostate Cancer?
In the UK, 1 in 8 men will develop prostate cancer at some point in their lives. Men over 50, men with a family history of prostate cancer, and men of African descent are more at risk of developing prostate cancer. Some symptoms of prostate cancer include:
- An increased need to urinate
- Urgently needing to go to the toilet
- Frequently needing to go to the toilet during the night
- Difficulty in starting to urinate (hesitancy)
- A weak urine flow
- Straining whilst you urinate
- A feeling that your bladder has not fully emptied
- Erection problems - though this is an uncommon symptom
- Blood in urine, or blood in semen
Do not ignore these symptoms if you are experiencing any. Although these may not mean that you have prostate cancer, they could be the cause of another non-cancerous condition, such as prostate enlargement. If you are worried about your risk, or find that you are experiencing the above symptoms, contact your GP.
The possible side effects that come with prostate cancer and its treatment can be embarrassing, and affect your confidence. Symptoms such as urinary incontinence, bowel incontinence, and erectile dysfunction can affect your way of life. By completing male Kegels before and after your cancer treatment, you can help to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. To learn more about treating male incontinence and erection difficulty, click here.
What is an Enlarged Prostate?
An enlarged prostate is medically referred to as a benign prostate enlargement (BPE). The condition is more common in men aged over 50 and usually isn't a serious threat.
What Causes an Enlarged Prostate?
The cause on an enlarged prostate is unknown, however it is believed to be linked to hormonal changes within men as they age.
What are the Symptoms of an Enlarged Prostate?
If the prostate has enlarged, it places pressure onto your bladder and urethra, affecting how you pass urine. This may cause:
- Difficulty starting to urine
- Urinary incontinence
- Urge incontinence
- An overactive bladder
- Having a weak urine flow
- Difficulty to fully empty your bladder
Pelvic floor muscle exercises can help to prevent incontinence as a side effect of having an enlarged prostate.
What is Prostatitis?
When prostatitis occurs, your prostate gland becomes inflamed and swells. This can be painful and worrying. Unlike prostate cancer or prostate enlargement, prostatitis can affect men of all ages, however it usually develops in men aged 30 and 50. When symptoms come and go over a period of several months, this is referred to as chronic prostatitis.
What Causes Prostatitis?
The causes of chronic prostatitis remain unclear as signs of infection in the prostate gland cannot usually be found. However, some risk factors include:
- Having prostatitis in the past
- Having painful abdominal issues, such as IBS.
- Age (30-50 years of age)
- Sexual abuse
What are the Symptoms of Prostatitis?
Chronic prostatitis may have developed if you have had the following symptoms for at least three months:
- Pain in or around your penis, anus, testicles, lower abdomen, or lower back
- Pain during urination
- Urge to urinate
- An enlarged or tender prostate
- Sexual issues such as erectile dysfunction, pelvic pain after sex, or pain in ejaculation.
Men with chronic prostatitis should try and focus on the relax part of their Kegel exercises in order to prevent further strain to their pelvic floor muscles.
Cancer Research UK (2016) About Prostate Cancer [online] Cancer Research UK [viewed 02/08/2018]. Available from https://prostatecanceruk.org/prostate-information/about-prostate-cancer.
Harvard Medical School (2014) Chronic Prostatitis . Harvard Health Publishing.
NHS (2017) Benign Prostate Enlargement [online]. NHS [viewed 30/08/2018]. Available from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/prostate-enlargement/
NHS (2017) Prostatitis [online]. NHS [viewed 30/08/2018]. Available from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/prostatitis/
NHS (2018) Prostate Cancer [online] NHS [viewed 02/08/2018]. Available from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/prostate-cancer/.
UCLA Prostate Cancer Program (2018) Pelvic Floor [online] UCLA Health [viewed 02/08/2018]. Available from http://urology.ucla.edu/prostate-cancer/pelvic-floor-rehabilitation.
URMC (2002) Breakthrough Treatment for Enlarged Prostate Has Men Cheering [online]. University of Rochester Medical Center [viewed 30/08/2018]. Available from https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/news/story/164/breakthrough-treatment-for-enlarged-prostate-has-men-cheering.aspx