When Should Men Have a Prostate Screening?

Disclaimer: Not medical or professional advice. Always seek the advice of your physician.

Age for Prostate Exam - Lake Conway Primary Care

Prostate Function

The prostate (prostate gland) is one of the significant components of the male reproductive system. The peak of functional activity of the prostate gland occurs during the period from puberty to about 40–45 years. As men age, they experience a gradual decline in prostate function.

The prostate produces a special protein that makes up most of the seminal fluid. Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is one of the components of prostatic secretion. It keeps semen in liquid form so that sperm travel more easily.

When the levels of testosterone, the most important male sex hormone, fall, the prostate starts producing it. Besides, the prostate is involved in ejaculation (release of semen) and urinary retention.

Another function of this gland is to protect from bladder and kidney infections by secreting various active substances.

Symptoms of Prostate Disease

  • Urinary symptoms are commonly experienced with prostate problems. They include a weak urine flow, difficulty starting urinating, and frequent urge to urinate, especially at night.
  • Changes in prostatic fluid composition affect the quality of sperm. It can become cloudy and watery. Also, men may experience a decrease in sex drive and erection problems.
  • Inflammation of the prostate gland causes pain. It is usually localized in the groin, lower back, and penis. It can also lead to discomfort during bowel movements.
  • Blood in urine or seminal fluid.

When Should You See a Physician?

The frequency of prostate screening depends on several factors, but most importantly on men's overall health. If they lead a healthy lifestyle without bad habits and constant exposure to stress, the first examination should be done at the age of 45 years.

Prostate exams should be carried out annually for men after the age of 40-45 since the chance of having urogenital disorders increases. These preventive measures allow the timely detection of potential health problems.

Men aged 20 to 45 years are recommended to undergo a prostate examination at least once every three years, especially if there are predisposing factors, such as a sedentary lifestyle, excess weight, unhealthy behaviors, or concomitant diseases (for example, hormonal imbalances).

What to Expect During a Prostate Screening?

Try to thoroughly explain problems that have been troubling you to your general practitioner, including the timing of onset and frequency of symptoms. Tell your physician whether you have recurrent urinary tract infections or experience pain after ejaculation or during urination, sudden urge to urinate, difficulty starting or maintaining a urine stream, and a weak or interrupted urine flow. Be sure to tell your physician about all medications you are taking (including over-the-counter medicines). Also, you will be asked about the amount of liquid you have during the day, caffeine and alcohol consumption, and changes in the color or smell of your urine.

What to expect during a prostate screening?

  • PSA blood test. It is one of the primary diagnostic tools for prostate cancer. In most cases, the disease remains in a state of dormancy for an extended period of time. It keeps progressing without noticeable symptoms. Therefore, measuring the level of prostate-specific antigen in the blood is the only way that enables the timely diagnosis of cancer. The patient gets the opportunity to start treatment at an early stage, avoiding the risk of complications.
  • Digital rectal exam (DRE). To check if there are any lumps or bumps on the back portion of the gland, the doctor inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into the patient's rectum. The procedure usually takes 15 seconds. Then, the doctor will inspect the fecal matter on the glove and examine for the presence of blood (a symptom of hemorrhoids or colon cancer). Tell your doctor if you are feeling pain during the examination, as it could indicate prostatitis or prostate stones. DRE also involves prostate massage to get a secret from the gland for a more detailed examination.
  • Urinalysis. This test is performed to identify the cause of the inflammation.
  • Sometimes patients need to get a urethral swab and a spermogram (a semen analysis). These examinations help to rule out sexually transmitted diseases and check the characteristics of sperm.

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