Functions of the Prostate Gland – The prostate is the exocrine gland of the reproductive system of most male mammals. Its main function is to secrete and store fluid, which makes up two-thirds of the semen. The prostate varies from species to species in terms of anatomy, chemistry, and physiology.
Prostate enlargement is a common symptom that affects men over the age of 50. Enlargement occurs in the central part of the prostate gland that surrounds the urinary tract (urethra). Sustained enlargement of the prostate gland in the periphery can lead to a more serious stage, up to prostate cancer.
Definition of the Prostate Gland
The prostate is a small, soft-textured organ that is only found in the male reproductive system. This gland is one of the organs in the reproductive system which is located under the bladder and has the function of producing semen.
This organ is a part of the male sexual or reproductive anatomy, along with other parts, namely the penis, scrotum, and testicles. Its location is in the pelvis, between the penis and bladder. The urethra, the tube that carries urine and semen out of the body, passes through the prostate. This is because this glandular organ surrounds the urethra and problems with this organ can affect the flow of urine.
This organ has the size of a walnut and weighs 20 to 30 grams and can grow bigger with age. Based on information in the journal Informed Health , the prostate gland is surrounded by connective tissue that contains lots of smooth muscle fibers and elastic connective tissue. This makes this organ feel very elastic to the touch.
There are also many smooth muscle cells in this glandular organ. During ejaculation, the muscle cells of this organ contract and forcefully push the fluid that has been stored in the prostate into the urethra. This causes fluid and sperm cells, along with fluids from other glands, to combine to form semen, which is then released.
Prostate Gland Tissue Structure
The prostate gland tissue is divided into three zones. The following is the order of the network structure from the innermost to the outermost layer.
1. Transition Zone
This zone is the deepest and smallest part of this organ, it only fills about 10% of the total weight of this organ. The transition zone surrounds the upper third of the urethra. The transition zone is the only part that will continue to grow for life.
This is why the transition zone is also often the starting point for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or benign prostate enlargement.
2. Central Zone
This zone, known as the median lobe, surrounds the transition zone and accounts for about a quarter of the total weight of this organ. Several sections consisting of the glandular ducts of this organ, the seminal ducts, and the seminal vesicles are found in the zone. This channel is also called the ejaculatory ducts.
3. Peripheral Zone
The peripheral zone makes up about 70% of the total tissue of this organ. The peripheral zone is the outer zone that can be felt during a digital rectal exam (DRE). Most problems such as adenocarcinoma or future cancer of these glandular organs are found in the peripheral zone. This area is also the most common location for chronic prostatitis.
Function of the Prostate Gland in the Male Reproductive System
As one of the main male reproductive organs, the function of the prostate gland is to play an important role in fertility.
The most important main function of the prostate gland is to produce fluid which will later mix with sperm cells from the testicles to form semen. This fluid is stored in tubular glands called seminal vesicles which are located in the central zone.
During ejaculation, the muscle cells covering the prostate will contract and suppress stored fluid. This process causes the fluid, sperm cells, and fluids from other glands to mix. This mixture forms semen which will come out through the penis or also known as semen.
This liquid greatly determines the quality of the cement produced. The reason is, this liquid consists of sugar, enzymes, and alkaline chemicals that play an important role in the fertilization process. The sugar released provides nutrition for sperm cells so they can fertilize the egg when it enters the woman’s body.
The prostate also produces an enzyme called prostate specific antigen (PSA) which helps melt semen after ejaculation so that sperm cells can swim faster towards the egg. Meanwhile, alkaline chemicals will neutralize vaginal acid secretion to maintain sperm viability in a woman’s body.
Semen also contains antibody components that can protect the urinary tract and sperm cells from bacteria and pathogens that cause various diseases. In addition, the presence of the prostate will prevent retrograde ejaculation, a condition in which semen is pulled backward into the bladder. The prostate muscle will help close the neck of the bladder when a person is experiencing sexual climax.
The following details the function of the prostate gland, including:
- Producing fluids that can keep sperm alive;
- Protects the genetic code carried by sperm;
- Produces fluids that keep sperm moving;
- Dilute thickened semen, so that sperm can move more easily and increase the success of fertilization.
During the ejaculation process, the fluid released by this gland will go to the urinary tract and will be released along with sperm. The combination of these two components is called cement. In addition to these two components, semen also consists of fluid produced by the seminal vesicles.
About 30 percent of the total fluid that comes out when a man ejaculates is fluid secreted by the prostate. To function properly, the prostate gland requires androgens (male hormones), such as testosterone and dihydrotestosterone.
Understanding Prostate Gland Anatomy
The prostate is surrounded by connective tissue consisting of many muscle fibers. These fibers surround the organ like a capsule. That is the reason the prostate feels elastic to the touch. The prostate gland can be divided into four areas and is arranged in layers around the urethra.
Diseases of the Prostate Gland
Just like other parts of the body, there are a number of prostate diseases that are at risk of attacking, namely:
1. Benign Prostate Enlargement
Benign prostate enlargement is a prostate disorder that usually affects men aged 50 and over. This condition makes the prostate enlarge to trigger symptoms such as difficulty urinating and frequent urination at night.
Prostatitis is inflammation that occurs in the prostate gland due to a bacterial infection. This disease is characterized by enlarged prostate size and experience pain. Prostatitis can be experienced by men at any age.
3. Prostate Cancer
The prostate gland can also experience cancer, even prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer experienced by men. This disease is also characterized by an enlarged prostate, bloody urine, pain when urinating or ejaculating, and erectile dysfunction.
How to Maintain Prostate Health
To maintain prostate health, you need to do regular prostate checks to the doctor. The Prostate Cancer Foundation page explains that examination of the prostate gland is a common procedure and is recommended for men, especially those over the age of 50 and men with a risk of prostate cancer.
The procedure for examining the prostate gland is called DRE or digital rectal examination. In this procedure, the doctor will insert a finger into the rectum through the anus to examine the prostate gland directly. The examination aims to look for possible enlargement or changes in the shape of the gland which could indicate a disturbance. This examination also needs to be done if you experience problems when urinating, such as difficulty urinating, or if urine comes out without control ( urinary incontinence ).
In addition, as reported by Harvard Medical School , you are expected to adopt a healthy lifestyle to keep your prostate healthy and functioning properly, including:
1. Eat Nutritious Foods
Your daily diet is one of the most important factors that determine your risk for a disease. Begin to set a healthy diet with balanced nutrition to avoid prostate disease.
Some foods that can help you prevent disease include foods with healthy fats such as avocados, nuts, olive oil, and fish that contain omega-3s. Green vegetables can also be a good first step to starting a healthy eating habit. Vegetables are full of vitamins and antioxidants that will protect you from disease-causing pathogens.
2. Basking in the Sun
Vitamin D can actually help you to reduce the risk of getting one of the diseases in the prostate organ, namely prostate cancer. In addition, vitamin D is also known to be good for heart, kidney and pancreatic health. One of the intake of vitamin D can be obtained from sunlight. Therefore, leave a few minutes for sunbathing. Don’t forget to use sunscreen to keep your skin protected.
Many studies have shown that obesity, especially with a high amount of abdominal fat, can be one of the triggers for BPH.
Try to be more active and do regular exercise to prevent this from happening. Exercise will help those of you who are overweight. Exercise can also help prevent other sexual health problems such as erectile dysfunction.
4. Perform Routine Checks
The older you are, the risk of prostate disease will increase. In addition, having a family history of prostate disease can also make your risk even higher. If you feel you fall into this group, you should consider screening.
Screening usually includes a DRE examination and a PSA level test. Later, if you have undergone both and your PSA shows above normal results, you may have to do further tests. This is very important to do so that the disease can be detected earlier.