Common Health Problems  »  Men’s Health


The prostate gland is below the bladder and in front of the rectum. It surrounds the upper part of the urethra. (This tube empties urine from the bladder.)

Prostate problems more likely to occur in men age 50 and older. A digital rectal exam (DRE) and a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test can help detect prostate cancer. Men should ask their doctors at what age to begin discussing prostate cancer screening. Men should also ask about the benefits and risks of having PSA blood tests.

Prostate problems are:

  1. Prostatitis. The prostate is inflamed or infected. This can be an acute or chronic problem.

  2. Enlarged prostate – Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). This is not cancer.

  3. Prostate cancer.

Signs & Symptoms

For Prostatitis

  1. Pain and burning when you pass urine, have an erection, or ejaculate.

  2. Strong urge to urinate. You pass urine often, even at night.

  3. A hard time starting to urinate. You don’t empty your bladder all the way.

  4. Pain in the lower back and/or between the scrotum and anus.

  5. Blood in the urine. Fever and/or chills.

For an Enlarged Prostate

  1. Increased urge to pass urine. You pass urine often, especially during the night.

  2. Delay in onset or decreased or slow stream when you pass urine.

  3. You don’t empty your bladder all the way.

For Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer may have no symptoms until it is advanced. When symptoms occur, they include:

  1. Symptoms of an enlarged prostate.

  2. Blood in the urine.

  3. Swollen lymph nodes in the groin area.

  4. Erectile dysfunction.

  5. Pain in the hips, pelvis, ribs, or spine.


For Prostatitis

A bacterial infection is usually the cause. With the chronic form, the infection comes back again and again. Sometimes, urine tests may not show bacteria. A prostate exam can confirm an infection.

For an Enlarged Prostate

  1. Normal aging. More than half of men in their 60s have benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Up to 80 percent of men in their 70s and 80s may have BPH.

  2. Prostate infections can increase the risk.

For Prostate Cancer

  1. Aging. The chances increase rapidly after age 50. About 80% of all cases occur in men over age 65.

  2. Race.

  3. Family history of prostate cancer.

  4. Studies have shown that a diet high in fat and dairy products and low in fruits and vegetables may increase the risk. A low-fat diet may help lower the risk. Eating tomato products, such as spaghetti sauce and tomato soup, may help lower the risk, too. These foods are a great source of lycopene. This plant chemical gives tomatoes their red color. It is also found in pink grapefruit and watermelon.

Self-Care / Prevention

For Prostatitis

  1. Take antibiotics as prescribed.

  2. Rest until fever and pain are gone.

  3. Take an over-the-counter medicine for pain and swelling, if needed. Take it as directed.

For an Enlarged Prostate

  1. Stay sexually active.

  2. Don’t take over-the-counter (OTC) medications with antihistamines unless approved by your doctor.

  3. Discuss the use of the OTC plant extract saw palmetto with your doctor before you take it.

For Both an Enlarged Prostate and Prostatitis

  1. Take warm baths.

  2. Don’t let your bladder get too full. Urinate as soon as you get the urge. Relax when you urinate.

  3. Drink 8 or more glasses of water every day. Don’t drink liquids before going to bed.

  4. Don’t smoke.

  5. Reduce stress.

For Prostatitis

Treatment is antibiotics and self-care.

For an Enlarged Prostate

  1. When symptoms are minor, no treatment may be needed at that time. The BPH is monitored to see if it causes problems or gets worse. This is called “watchful waiting.”

  2. Medicine. One type helps relax the bladder neck muscle and the prostate. Another type causes the prostate to shrink.

  3. Surgery. There are many types.

For Prostate Cancer

Treatment depends on the man’s age and health. It also depends on how slow the cancer is expected to grow or if it has spread beyond the prostate. Treatment includes:

  1. Watchful waiting. This means getting no treatment at that time, but having tests, such as every 3, 6, or 12 months, to check for changes that may need treatment

  2. Surgery. Discuss the pros and cons for surgical options with your doctor.

  3. Radiation therapy. With one type, radioactive material is placed inside the prostate gland. Another type uses a large machine outside the body to target the cancer cells.

  4. Hormone therapy.

  5. Chemotherapy.

  6. Immunotherapy. This uses your own blood cells to make a vaccine that stimulates your immune system to kill the cancer cells.

Discuss the benefits and risks of treatment options with your doctor.

Questions to Ask

Do you have signs and symptoms of prostatitis, an enlarged prostate, or prostate cancer? Or, if you have been told you have prostate cancer or an enlarged prostate, do symptoms get worse or do you have new symptoms?

Do symptoms of prostatitis not improve after 3 days of treatment, get worse during treatment, or come back after treatment is done?


Urology Care Foundation