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Male anatomy is distinctly different from women’s – we have sexual reproductive organs that are on the outside, while they have quite a few organs more than us inside their bodies.

But inside, men have something women don’t – a prostate. It’s a walnut sized gland, related to your urinary system, found just below your bladder. The prostate surrounds part of the urethra, the canal that empties the bladder, and it produces a fluid that forms an integral part of your semen.

Two conditions are common to the prostate –benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), and prostate cancer.

You might have BPH if you tick these following warning signs:

Warning sign 1:
Feeling the need to urinate frequently

Warning sign 2:
Difficulty starting to urinate

Warning sign 3:
Difficulty emptying your bladder completely, and because of this, urine may dribble.

Warning sign 4:
Urine stream is weak and may start and stop.

Warning sign 5:
Urinating two or more times in the middle of the night.

Warning sign 6:
Sudden strong urges to urinate

Warning sign 7:
Urinary issues get in the way of life

The warning signs above spell out a long day in the life of a man with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Cells in the prostate mutiply more than usual and enlarge the prostate, resulting in nodules that compress the urethral canal.

This causes partial, or sometimes virtually complete, obstruction of the urethra, which interferes with the normal flow of urine, leading to the above symptoms.

Sadly, BPH is quite common. At the age of 40 onwards, you’re likely to have BPH. You should decrease fluid intake before bedtime, moderate the consumption of alcohol, caffeine-containing products and other diuretics, and follow fixed pee schedules.

Your doctor may also prescribe some medicine to help you control the condition. And if that still doesn’t work, there’s surgery.

Up, up, where we belong

Transurethral resection of prostate (TURP) surgery may need to be performed to remove part of the prostate through the urethra. Laser treatments have also evolved to produce similar results, with the benefit of not requiring something long and sharp to be stuck up your body.

The treatment of BPH is usually reserved for men with significant symptoms. There are no ways that doctors know of to prevent BPH – so the annual digital exam after 40 is the best bet for controlling the symptoms of BPH before they become so bad that you are forced to go for surgery.

Prostate cancer and the PSA test

Prostate cancer can be another possibility if you have the above symptoms. Prostate cancer is the third most frequent cancer among Singapore males.
Some studies have shown that routine screening allows early detection of prostate cancer in men who do not have any symptoms at all.

However, about 4 in 10 who have tested positive in the Prostate-Specific Antigen test (PSA) later found out that it was a false alarm.

Because of the trauma, costs and problems of unnecessary treatment, the Ministry of Health in Singapore currently does not recommend routine screening for prostate cancer using the PSA test.

In fact, Dr Michael Wong Yuet Chen, President of the Singapore Urological Association, wrote in a forum letter to the Straits Times to explain that “Currently, PSA testing is targeted at high-risk patients; those with bladder and/or prostate symptoms and close relatives of those with prostate cancer.”

So, you’ll be asked to take a PSA test - only if you have a family history of it – and the signs to go along. LW

To test or not to test? |  Do you have it? |  It's getting bigger |  From Flab to Ab |  Masters of pain |  Why snore? 

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