What does the prostate do?
Your prostate is about the size of a walnut, and sits below your bladder. The prostate surrounds the urethra; the tube that begins at the base of your bladder and ends at the tip of your penis. The urethra carries urine when you empty your bladder, and semen when you ejaculate.
The main job of the prostate is to produce a fluid that makes up about one third of semen volume. The fluid helps to protect the sperm in the vagina, and contains prostate-specific antigen (PSA), which breaks down the jelly-like consistency of semen after it’s ejaculated into a thinner fluid in which the sperm can move and swim. PSA can be measured in the bloodstream to provide information about prostate health.
Muscles within the prostate tighten during orgasm, releasing semen out through the urethra. Tightening of the top part of the prostate and the bladder muscles during ejaculation directs the semen out through the penis rather than into the bladder (problems with this can result in retrograde ejaculation).
The prostate gets bigger with age and as it does, it can affect your ability to urinate. Eating a healthy diet and doing regular exercise are easy things you can do to keep your prostate healthy and functioning properly.
Answered by: Associate Professor Tim Moss
Associate Professor Tim Moss has PhD in physiology and more than 20-years’ experience as a biomedical research scientist. Tim stepped away from his successful academic career at the end of 2019, to apply his skills in turning complicated scientific and medical knowledge into information that all people can use to improve their health and well being.
Tim has written for crikey.com and Scientific American’s Observations blog, which is far more interesting than his authorship of over 150 academic publications. He has studied science communication at the Alan Alda Centre for Communicating Science in New York, and at the Department of Biological Engineering Communication Lab at MIT in Boston.