Keep the Romance, Get a Prostate Exam

Keep the Romance Get a Prostate Exam

Don’t just do it for yourself, do it for your loved one.

As men age, the need to keep an eye on their prostate health becomes more important. A prostate exam is a common procedure used to check on the condition of the prostate. Regrettably, many men neglect the task of having periodic prostate examinations. This is often due to misunderstandings about the exam, along with a lack of good information about prostate care and problems.

The actual Prostate exam is done in your doctor’s office, and involves nothing more than a lubricant and a rubber glove.

The physician will move his finger in a circular motion to identify the lobes and grooves of the prostate gland. He would also expect the prostate to feel firm and rubbery. A normal sized prostate gland is about an inch and a half long, shaped somewhat like a walnut. The prostate will be easily examined through the thin walls of the rectum, which is next to the prostate. This allows your doctor to check for any other abnormalities. Usually, the prostate exam takes only a moment or two and is relatively painless.

The Prostate Institute recommends that men over 40 have a prostate exam annually to monitor your prostate health and detect any issues, including a common condition known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).

If your prostate becomes enlarged, a layer of tissue surrounding it prevents it from enlarging any further, causing the gland force against the urethra. The bladder becomes irritable, and begins to contract even when it is not full, causing more frequent urination. Eventually, the bladder may weaken and lose the ability to completely empty, and some urine will remain in the bladder. This constricting of the urethra and limited voiding of the bladder produce many of the problems associated with BPH.

About half of all men over the age of 50 show symptoms of BPH, and this number increases to nearly 90 percent for men in their 70s and early 80s, according to the American Urological Association.

While the risk of major prostate problems is relatively low before age 40, many doctors recommend having a prostate exam every few years for men in their 20’s and 30’s. Exam frequency may increase to every year or two if there is a history of prostate cancer or related issues in the immediate family, such as a brother, father, or grandfather. Also, African-American men are believed to have an elevated risk of developing prostate issues. Risk factors such as heredity or race may prompt doctors to recommend more frequent testing for individual patients.

After age 40, many doctors advocate an annual prostate exam as part of the yearly checkup. Some medical associations recommend an annual prostate exam after age 45, assuming there are no other prostate issues. Nevertheless, almost every reliable medical source agrees that after the age of 45, all men should have their prostate checked every year.

BPH by itself is not deadly, but its symptoms can limit your daily (and nightly) functions. Symptoms associated with irritation are often a combination of the actual obstruction and the effects of the obstruction. Among the symptoms you may experience:

  • A weak or hesitant urine stream
  • Incontinence (leaking or dribbling)
  • Increased frequency of urination, particularly at night
  • Trouble beginning a urine stream or only making a dribble
  • Sensation that the bladder has not completely emptied
  • A strong or sudden urge to urinate
  • Stopping and starting again several times
  • Pushing or straining to begin

BPH symptoms often interfere with sleep and a normal lifestyle, so prompt treatment is recommended. Until recently, the only options were major surgery or taking daily drugs. Both treatments can have undesirable effects. Drug therapy can lose its effectiveness over time and cause side effects such as dizziness, nausea, and loss of libido. The most common type of major surgery is transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) and generally has serious risks to the patients including sexual dysfunction and incontinence.

Failure to have a prostate exam on a regular basis can lead to major health issues. Men can experience decreased urinary functions, including a negative impact on sexual desire and performance when prostate issues are not addressed. Taking a few moments each year to submit to a prostate exam can do a great deal to maintain a comfortable level of health and living, and also allow for any problems to be corrected before there is the chance for permanent damage. Do it for the one you love.

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