The prostate gland is part of the male reproductive system. It is about the size of a walnut and is found in front of the rectum just below the bladder and wraps around the urethra, the tube carrying urine from the bladder.
The prostate undergoes two main growth spurts. The first is fuelled by sex hormones made by the testicles during puberty. This prompts the gland to reach an average weight of 20g. The second growth spurt begins when men are in their 30s.
The average weight of a prostate gland is 20 g, approximately .7 of an ounce. Prostate gland size can increase not only with age but with body mass index (BMI) as well. Mildly obese men were found to have prostatic weights of 40 g — roughly double its normal size. However, morbidly obese men had prostates smaller than those of the mildly obese men; a result that researchers concluded was due to lower serum testosterone levels.
The prostate gland continues to grow slowly during the male’s life. According to Cedars-Sinai, an enlarged prostate occurs in approximately 43% of the male population over the age of 60.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is an enlarged prostate and is a common condition in men over the age of 40. Symptoms of an enlarged prostate include a need to urinate more frequently, an inability to totally empty the bladder and difficulty initiating urination with a weak urine flow once urination has begun.
Prostatitis is an enlarged prostate due to inflammation or irritation. It can be caused by bacteria or injury. A burning sensation when urinating can be a sign of prostatitis as well as a need to urinate more frequently. Prostatitis can also be accompanied by fever and lethargy.
Doctors use a variety of methods to estimate prostate weight. Two commonly used methods for estimating prostate weight are digital rectal examination (DRE) and transrectal ultrasonography (TRUS). According to an article published in The Journal of Urology prostate weight estimated by DRE was shown to correlate poorly with actual prostate weight. TRUS provides a better estimate of prostate weight and is more accurate in smaller prostate glands. This conclusion came about after a study was performed on 2,283 men who underwent radical retropubic prostatectomy. The documented preoperative DRE and TRUS estimates of prostate weight was compared to the with actual gland weight.
Men with urination problems should consult their healthcare provider for better assessment of their condition.