The Prostate Gland: What Does It Do?

February 19, 2016

By The Institute for Natural Healing

The Prostate Gland What Does It DoThe prostate gland is a male reproductive organ. It has three primary functions:

  1. The secretion of prostate fluid.
  2. The regulation of urine flow.
  3. The conversion of the male sex hormone testosterone to a more biologically active version called DHT.

Prostate fluid is one of the components of semen. During ejaculation, the muscles of the prostate help propel seminal fluid into the urethra.[1]

The gland is primarily composed of muscle tissue. However, the muscle fibers have an involuntary action. That means a man cannot control when the muscle contracts and relaxes. The gland weighs about three-quarters of an ounce.

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It is roughly triangular in shape. However, it can vary greatly in size. It is situated just beneath the bladder, around the urethra.

The prostate gland is the main controller of the chain events that allow ejaculation. When a man ejaculates, sperm moves from the testes through tubes called the vas deferens into the area of the prostate.

The prostate gland then contracts. This constricts the opening separating the bladder and the urethra. When this occurs, fluid is released into the urethra, expelling the semen.[2]

The prostate plays the role of “traffic cop” for the routing of semen and urine.

During ejaculation, the prostate and the bladder’s sphincter muscle closes the urethra up to the bladder. This prevents semen from entering the bladder.

During urination, the central zone muscles of the prostate close the prostate’s ducts so that urine cannot enter.

Prostate fluid excretion comprises about 15-30% of the volume of the semen.[3] It contains citric acid, the mineral zinc, and a number of enzymes. The pH of prostate fluid is slightly acidic. However, the seminal vesicles compensate for this by producing another fluid that is slightly alkaline. This leaves semen just slightly alkaline.

Biologically, the slight alkalinity offers an advantage. It allows sperm to better survive the acidic environment of the vagina. Without the alkaline protection of the seminal fluid, sperm would be less able to survive the acidity inside a woman’s reproductive organs to attain fertilization.[4]

There is another ingredient in prostate fluid that enhances male fertility. It is an enzyme called prostate specific antigen (PSA). It helps sperm successfully fertilize eggs by making the consistency of semen thinner after ejaculation.

This liquefying action means sperm can move more easily and makes it more likely fertilization will occur.

Most older men know that an enlarged prostate can lead to trouble urinating. And they may ask: If the prostate is a sex organ, how does it affect urination. It all has to do with location.

The prostate is in the perfect location for delivering the fluid that enables ejaculation. But its location, wrapped around the urethra, is a problem if the gland grows bigger. This often happens with age.

An enlarged prostate gland puts pressure on the urethra and inflames bladder walls. This may mean normal urination is not possible.

An abnormally large prostate may also cause problems with sexual function. It can make ejaculation become painful.

The prostate also plays an important role in male hormone processing. The gland transforms the male sex hormone testosterone into a form that is more biologically available. This form of the hormone is called dihydrotestosterone, or DHT. It is thought to be two to three times more potent than the regular form of testosterone.[5]

How Big Is Your Prostate? Take Quiz.

 

[1] http://www.livescience.com/32751-what-does-the-prostate-gland-do.html

[2] http://www.urology-textbook.com/prostate-anatomy.html

[3] http://www.britannica.com/science/prostate-gland

[4] http://www.livestrong.com/article/18200-prostate-gland-work/

[5] http://www.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/prostate-cancer/print.html