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Prostate problems

6-minute read

Key facts

  • The prostate is a gland that sits in the pelvis of males, just below the bladder and plays a role in semen production.
  • Problems with the prostate include prostate enlargement, prostatitis, and prostate cancer.
  • These problems cause symptoms such as difficulty urinating (weeing) and pain.
  • If you experience symptoms of prostate problems, you should see your doctor.

What is the prostate?

The prostate is a gland found only in males. The main function of your prostate is to produce the major fluids that make up semen.

The prostate sits in your pelvis, between your bladder and penis.

The urethra, the tube which carries urine from your bladder to your penis, also runs through your prostate. This means that any prostate swelling or enlargement can affect your ability to pass urine.

Prostate issues can affect any person with a prostate, including:

What types of prostate problems are there?

There are 3 main conditions that can affect your prostate. They are:

  1. prostate enlargement
  2. prostate cancer
  3. prostatitis (inflammation of your prostate gland)

Prostate enlargement and prostate cancer are common in older people. About 1 in 2 people aged over 50 years will have some prostate enlargement.

Prostatitis is when your prostate is inflamed. It can be either acute or chronic. Prostatitis is usually caused by a bacterial infection that can happen at any age. Another form of chronic prostatitis, also known as chronic pelvic pain syndrome, is not caused by infection.

It's important for people with a prostate, to discuss prostate health with their doctor. You can ask questions about your prostate no matter what the reason for your visit to the doctor is.

What are the symptoms of prostate problems?

Trouble passing urine (weeing) is common in older people. It's also one of the most common signs that there may be a problem with your prostate. You may:

  • have difficulty urinating, such as dribbling
  • frequently urinate
  • wake at night to urinate

Other symptoms of prostate disease include:

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any symptoms, it's important to see your doctor.

Your doctor can:

  • check for prostate problems
  • offer treatment
  • manage your symptoms

They can also rule out other conditions, such as:

How are prostate problems diagnosed?

Your doctor may ask you questions about your symptoms and how they affect your life.

To diagnose prostate problems they may:

How are prostate problems treated?

Treatment for prostate disease depends on the condition and how bad your symptoms are. Sometimes, no treatment is required.

If you have an enlarged prostate that is causing you problems, you can have treatment, such as:

  • medication
  • surgery
  • lifestyle changes

If you have prostatitis, antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications can help.

If you are diagnosed with prostate cancer you will need further tests. This will help your doctor decide which treatments you need. Treatments can include:

Talk to your doctor about your options.

Looking after yourself

You may be able to reduce the symptoms of prostate problems by:

  • drinking plenty of water to flush bacteria from your bladder
  • increasing your fruit and fibre intake to avoid constipation, which can put pressure on your prostate
  • having warm baths to ease your symptoms

You should avoid:

  • alcohol and caffeine, which can cause you to urinate more
  • spicy or acidic foods, which can irritate your bladder
  • drinking late in the evening to prevent the need to urinate during the night

Can prostate problems be prevented?

You can help prevent prostate cancer by keeping healthy. Be sure to:

Complications of prostate problems

Prostate cancer can spread to other parts of the body. If you have any symptoms of prostate problems, see your doctor.

Resources and Support

You can find information and support for prostate problems through:

You can also call the healthdirect helpline on 1800 022 222 (known as NURSE-ON-CALL in Victoria). A registered nurse is available to speak with 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: February 2023

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