September 22, 2015 • read

What the Heck is a Prostate?

Every guy has one and it’s an important part of our sexual health, yet a lot of guys don’t really know the answer to the most basic question: what exactly is a prostate? Well, there’s no need to pull it out of your *ss, if you don’t know what it is. 

In a nutshell, the prostate is a walnut-shaped gland located in front of the rectum, and between the bladder and the penis that controls things like your pee flow and the volume of your ejaculate. The prostate grows naturally as men age, and for most guys, this isn’t a problem. But once you hit 40, it’s time to start paying attention.

“The prostate is very important for fathering children because of its role in producing the fluid that helps sperm survive in their ultimate journey,” says Dr. Larry Goldenberg, founder of the Canadian Men’s Health Foundation. “But after age 40, the prostate can become inflamed, grow, and block urine flow, or become cancerous. At this age, every man should investigate how he can keep his prostate healthy and ask his doctor about getting a blood test and digital rectal examination.”

Although only 1 in 10,000 men under age 40 is diagnosed with prostate cancer, the rate shoots up to 1 in 38 for ages 40 to 59, and 1 in 14 for ages 60 to 69. In fact, it’s the leading cause of men’s cancer in Canada: a whopping 1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime.

And as scary as that fact is, the scariest part is that the vast majority of prostate cancers do not have any symptoms. Problems peeing are almost always due to non-cancerous causes. The one exception to this is seeing blood in the toilet bowl—this is a signal that requires attention because something nasty might be lurking.

The good news? If prostate cancer is detected and treated early, there’s a 95% survival rate. If you’re over 40, make sure you speak to your doctor about your prostate.

Read more about prostate health in Men’s Health A-Z.

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