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The prostate is a compound tubuloalveolar exocrine gland of the male mammalian reproductive system.
The main function of the prostate is to store and secrete a clear, slightly alkaline (pH 7.29) fluid that constitutes 10-30% of the volume of the seminal fluid that, along with spermatozoa, constitutes semen. The rest of the seminal fluid is produced by the two seminal vesicles. The alkalinity of seminal fluid helps neutralize the acidity of the vaginal tract; prolonging the lifespan of sperm.
The prostate also contains some smooth muscles that help expel semen during ejaculation.
Prostatic secretions vary among species. They are generally composed of simple sugars, and are often slightly basic.
The main male hormone is testosterone, which is produced mainly by the testicles. Some male hormones are produced in small amounts by the adrenal glands. However, it is dihydrotestosterone that regulates the prostate.
The prostate gland represents the modified wall of the proximal portion of the male urethra and arises by the 9th week of embryonic life in the development of the reproductive system. Condensation ofmesenchyme, urethra and Wolffian ducts gives rise to the adult prostate gland, a composite organ made up of several glandular and non-glandular components tightly fused within a common capsule.
The ducts are lined with transitional epithelium.
Within the prostate, the urethra coming from the bladder is called the prostatic urethra and merges with the two ejaculatory ducts. (The male urethra has two functions: to carry urine from the bladder during urination and to carry semen during ejaculation.) The prostate is sheathed in the muscles of the pelvic floor, which contract during the ejaculatory process.
The prostate can be divided in two different ways: by zone, or by lobe.
The "zone" classification is more often used in pathology.
The prostate gland has four distinct glandular regions, two of which arise from different segments of the prostatic urethra:
The "lobe" classification is more often used in gross anatomy.
Prostatitis is inflammation of the prostate gland. There are different forms of prostatitis, each with different causes and outcomes. Acute prostatitis and chronic bacterial prostatitis are treated with antibiotics; chronic non-bacterial prostatitis or male chronic pelvic pain syndrome, which comprises about 95% of prostatitis diagnoses, is treated by a large variety of modalities including alpha blockers, phytotherapy, physical therapy, psychotherapy, antihistamines, anxiolytics, nerve modulators and more. More recently, a combination of trigger point and psychological therapy has proved effective as well.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) occurs in older men; the prostate often enlarges to the point where urination becomes difficult. Symptoms include needing to go to the toilet often or taking a while to get started. If the prostate grows too large it may constrict the urethra and impede the flow of urine, making urination difficult and painful and in extreme cases completely impossible. For more information see www.1in4men.com
BPH can be treated with medication or with surgery that removes the prostate. The surgery most often used in such cases is called transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP or TUR). In TURP, an instrument is inserted through the urethra to remove prostate tissue that is pressing against the upper part of the urethra and restricting the flow of urine. Older men often have corpora amylacea (amyloid), dense accumulations of calcified proteinaceous material, in the ducts of their prostates. The corpora amylacea may obstruct the lumens of the prostatic ducts, and may underlie some cases of BPH.
Urinary frequency due to bladder spasm, common in older men, may be confused with prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate.)
Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers affecting older men in developed countries and a significant cause of death for elderly men (estimated by some specialists at 3%). Regular rectal exams are recommended for older men to detect prostate cancer early.
Male sexual response
During orgasm sperm are transmitted from the ductus deferens into the male urethra via the ejaculatory ducts, which lie within the prostate gland.
The prostate is often referred to as the "male G-spot". Some men are able to achieve orgasm solely through stimulation of the prostate gland. Men who report the sensation of prostate stimulation often give descriptions similar to women's accounts of G-spot stimulation.
Vasectomy and risk of prostate cancer
In 1993, the Journal of the American Medical Association revealed a connection between vasectomy and an increased risk of prostate cancer. Reported studies of 48,000 and 29,000 men who had vasectomies showed 66 percent and 56 percent higher rates of prostate cancer, respectively. The risk increased with age and the number of years since the vasectomy was performed.
However, in March of the same year, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development held a conference cosponsored by the National Cancer Institute and others to review the available data and information on the link between prostate cancer and vasectomies. It was determined that an association between the two was very weak at best, and even if having a vasectomy increased one's risk, the risk was relatively small.
In 1997, the NCI held a conference with the prostate cancer Progressive Review Group (a committee of scientists, medical personnel, and others). Their final report, published in 1998 stated that evidence that vasectomies help to develop prostate cancer was weak at best.
The text of this article was originally taken from NIH Publication No. 02-4806, a public domain resource .
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Prostate". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|