The prostate gland is a true powerhouse. This small, walnut-sized gland hiding deep in the pelvis is a critical component of men’s health. Let’s take a moment to learn what we can about the prostate.
The prostate gland is located within the pelvis, below the bladder and in front of the rectum. The urethra runs through the center of the prostate and carries urine from the bladder and out of the body. The prostate is part muscle and part gland. It’s made up of 3 lobes and it has ducts that open into the urethra. It’s a member of the male reproductive system.
What does the prostate do? Let’s take a look at some of its functions:
- It’s a gland. The first and foremost role of the prostate is the production and secretion of a portion (about 30%) of the alkaline seminal fluids used during ejaculation. The alkaline prostate fluid protects the sperm from the acidic environment in the female vagina.
- It’s a fertility booster. One of the fluids the prostate produces is called the prostate-specific antigen (PSA). PSA enables the sperm to swim into the uterus by keeping the semen in liquid form. Without PSA, the clotting enzyme in the seminal vesicle fluid that “glues” the semen to the cervix would prevent the sperm from breaking free and swimming into the uterus to find an egg.
- It’s a powerful pump. The muscle part of the prostate pumps the semen out through the penis forcefully enough to send it into the vagina to get the sperm where they need to go.
- It’s a protector. The prostate filters out toxins in order to protect the sperm and its secretions protect the urethra from infection.
- It’s an erector set. The erection nerves that are part of the prostate trigger the penis to swell and harden.
- It’s a valve. The two small sphincter muscles within the prostate control the flow of fluids. They are essentially gatekeepers that make sure the right fluids flow in the right directions at the right times.
- It’s a regulator. The prostate works to regulate and produce testosterone. The prostate gland contains 5-alpha-reductase, an enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT (dihydrotestosterone), a powerful hormone that controls male sexual drive and function.
Such a complex gland controlling so many critical functions requires the most diligent care. Prostate diseases can really do a number on a man’s health, causing trouble with hormone levels, sexual function, and urination, just to name a few. Never leave prostate health to chance; regular prostate screenings and healthy habits should be part of your prostate health regimen.