The prostate is a small, round gland of the male reproductive system that is located in front of the rectum, at the base of the bladder. Its primary function is to release fluid into the urethra during ejaculation.
During ejaculation, sperm travels from the testicle up and back into the body through a tube called the vas deferens. The vas deferens run behind the bladder and enter into the prostate gland. As it travels through the male reproductive system, sperm combines with seminal fluid, another component of ejaculate, from three sources - the seminal vesicles, the prostate, and the bulbourethral glands. The ejaculate then travels the length of the urethra and out of the body via the penis.
Normally, the prostate gland grows as a man matures. The enlargement is referred to as benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH, and doesn't usually cause any problems until late in life.
A common symptom of BPH is a noticeable change in urination resulting from obstruction of the urethra and the loss of bladder function. Left untreated, BPH can lead to urinary tract infections, bladder or kidney damage, bladder stones or incontinence. A doctor can recommend appropriate treatment depending on the severity of symptoms.