Health Library

Categories > Men’s Health > Prostate disorders

When your prostate poses problems

Like most men, you probably never had trouble with your prostate gland before you reached your 50s. But odds are that as you get older you’ll have some type of problem with this walnut-sized gland that sits below the bladder.

Although prostate cancer gets a lot of the attention, most prostate conditions are minor and benign and can be successfully treated. Read on to learn about three common prostate conditions and symptoms you should be looking out for.


Prostatitis, an inflammation or infection of the prostate, affects at least half of all men at some time in their lives. Symptoms include:

  • trouble passing urine or blocked urine
  • pain or a burning or stinging feeling when passing urine
  • a strong, frequent urge to pass urine, even when you have only a small amount of urine
  • chills and high fever
  • low back pain or body aches
  • pain in the lower belly or groin or behind the scrotum

Prostatitis isn’t contagious and can’t be passed through sexual contact. It’s usually treated with antibiotics or other medication.

Benign prostatic hyperplasia

Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is characterized by an enlarged prostate. Prostate growth is a normal part of aging and not cancerous. By age 60, many men have signs of BPH. By age 70, almost all men have an enlarged prostate. As the prostate enlarges, it presses on the urethra, the tube through which urine leaves the bladder. An enlarged prostate can slow or block urine flow, make it difficult to start or stop a urine stream or cause you to relieve your bladder often. About half the men with BPH eventually need treatment. It can’t be cured, but drugs or surgery may relieve its symptoms.

Prostate cancer

Among men, prostate cancer is the most common cancer after skin cancer. But because it typically grows slowly, prostate cancer rarely causes any symptoms and accounts for only 3 percent of all male deaths. In fact, most men who have prostate cancer don’t die from the disease, says the National Cancer Institute. Nevertheless, all men over age 50 should discuss testing for prostate cancer with their doctor.