The prostate is a gland below the bladder and in front of the rectum in men and people assigned male at birth (AMAB). It consists of connective tissues and glandular tissues. It adds fluid to semen, and its muscles help push semen through your urethra. Conditions that affect your prostate include cancer, prostatitis and benign prostatic hyperplasia.


The prostate is a walnut-shaped gland in your pelvis that rests below your bladder and in front of your rectum.
Your prostate creates fluids in your semen, and the muscles in your prostate help you ejaculate.

What is a prostate?

The prostate is a small gland that’s part of the male reproductive system.


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What does a prostate do for a man?

Your prostate contributes additional fluid to your semen (ejaculate). Ejaculate is a whitish-gray fluid that releases from your penis when you orgasm. The fluid contains enzymes, zinc and citric acid, which help nourish sperm cells and lubricate your urethra (pronounced “yer-ree-thruh”). The urethra is a tube through which ejaculate and pee flow out of your body.

Your prostate’s muscles also help push semen into and through your urethra when you orgasm.

Do women have a prostate?

No, women don’t have a prostate. Women and people assigned female at birth (AFAB) have Skene’s glands. However, some people refer to Skene’s glands as the female prostate gland.

The Skene’s glands are on either side of the urethra. Medical researchers believe these glands may secrete fluid that helps with urination (peeing) and cleanliness. They may also have a function for sexual intercourse, possibly providing the fluid for female ejaculation.


Where is the prostate located?

Your prostate is below your bladder and in front of your rectum. Your urethra runs through the center of your prostate.


What does the prostate look like?

Your prostate has five lobes: anterior (in the front) and posterior (in the back) lobes, two lateral lobes (on the sides) and one median (in the middle) lobe. Connective tissues and glandular tissues make up its structure. The prostatic fascia covers your prostate. Prostatic fascia is a sheet of stretchy connective tissue.

How big is the prostate?

Your prostate is about the size of a walnut.

The prostate usually gets larger after age 40 (benign prostatic hyperplasia). It can grow from the size of a walnut to the size of a lemon. Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) isn’t cancerous, and it doesn’t increase your risk of developing prostate cancer.

How much does your prostate weigh?

Your prostate weighs about 1 ounce (30 grams), which is as heavy as five U.S. quarters.


Conditions and Disorders

What are the common conditions and disorders that affect the prostate?

Common conditions that affect your prostate include:

  • Prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is the second most common type of cancer that affects men and people assigned male at birth (AMAB).
  • Inflammation (prostatitis). Four different prostatitis conditions cause inflammation in your prostate gland: acute bacterial prostatitis, chronic bacterial prostatitis, chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CPPS) and asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis. It’s the most common urinary tract issue in men and people AMAB younger than 50, and the third most common in men and people AMAB over 50.
  • Benign prostatic hyperplasia. BPH causes your prostate to grow, which can cause blockages in your urethra. Almost all men and people AMAB will develop some prostate enlargement as they age.

What are the warning signs of prostate problems?

Common warning signs of prostate problems include:

  • Pain in your penis, testicles or perineum (pronounced “pare-uh-nee-um”). The perineum is the area between your testicles and your rectum.
  • Frequent urges to pee.
  • Pain while peeing (dysuria) or ejaculating.
  • Slowness or dribbling of your pee stream.
  • Difficulty starting to pee.
  • Frequent need to get up at night to pee.
  • Erectile dysfunction (ED).
  • Blood in urine or semen (hematospermia).
  • Pain in your lower back, hip or chest.

What are common tests that check the health of the prostate?

Common tests to check your prostate health include:

  • Digital rectal exam. Your healthcare provider inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into your rectum and feels your prostate gland. Bumps or hard areas may indicate cancer.
  • Prostate-specific antigen blood test. Your prostate makes a protein called protein-specific antigen (PSA). Elevated PSA levels may indicate cancer. PSA levels may also rise if you have BPH or prostatitis.
  • Biopsy. Your healthcare provider uses a needle to get a sample of your prostate tissue. A healthcare provider will examine the sample under a microscope in a lab.

What are common treatments for the prostate?

Prostate treatment depends on the type of condition you have.

Prostate cancer

  • Active surveillance. You get screenings, scans and biopsies every one to three years to monitor cancer growth.
  • Brachytherapy. Brachytherapy is a type of internal radiation therapy. Your healthcare provider places radioactive seeds in your prostate. The seeds help preserve the surrounding healthy tissue.
  • Focal therapy. Focal therapy focuses on treating only the cancerous area of your prostate. Focal therapy options include high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU), cryotherapy, laser ablation and photodynamic therapy (PDT).
  • Prostatectomy. Your healthcare provider surgically removes your prostate.


Depending on the cause and type of your prostatitis, your healthcare provider may recommend:

  • Medications. Some medications help relax the muscles around your prostate and bladder to help improve urine flow. Antibiotics help kill infection-causing bacteria.
  • Stress management. Counseling for anxiety and depression can help relieve symptoms.
  • Exercises. Pelvic floor exercises can help reduce or eliminate muscle spasms.

Benign prostatic hyperplasia

  • Medications. Medications can help decrease the production of hormones that cause your prostate to grow.
  • Surgery. Surgery can remove the obstructing prostate tissue that blocks the flow of pee.
  • Water vapor therapy. A healthcare provider inserts an instrument through your urethra and into your prostate. The instrument emits steam vapor, which kills prostate cells and shrinks your prostate.


How do I keep my prostate healthy?

Help keep your prostate healthy by:

  • Getting regular prostate screenings. Most people should start screenings at 50. If you have a family history of prostate cancer, it’s a good idea to start screenings at a younger age.
  • Exercising regularly. People who are more physically active are less likely to have BPH.
  • Eating a healthy diet. Eating the recommended amount of fruits, vegetables and healthy protein may help promote prostate health.
  • Quitting tobacco products. Tobacco products may increase your risk of developing prostate cancer.

Can supplements improve my prostate health?

Dietary supplements don’t have to go through clinical trials or get approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), so there isn’t much data on them. Supplements may show minor benefits, but most people won’t see an improvement in their prostate health from taking them.

Additional Common Questions

Can you live without a prostate?

Yes, you can live without your prostate.

If you have prostate cancer, you and your healthcare provider may decide to remove your entire prostate gland. Common side effects of living without a prostate include ED and uncontrollable peeing.

How can I feel my prostate?

You can’t touch your prostate, but you can feel it from the outside of your body (externally) or through your rectum (internally).

The easiest way to feel your prostate is from the back half of your perineum, near your rectum. The area mainly contains nerves and veins, not tissue. Your prostate should feel soft or rubbery.

You can also feel your prostate more directly through your rectum. Your prostate is about two inches inside your rectum. It’s between your penis and your rectum, and it feels soft or rubbery.

When you touch your prostate externally or internally, you may feel a sudden urge to pee.

Many people find prostate stimulation sexually satisfying. However, you can’t accurately check your prostate health through a self-examination. If you have any concerns about your prostate health, talk to a healthcare professional. They can answer any of your questions and accurately assess your prostate health.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Your prostate is a small, walnut-shaped organ. It’s below your bladder and in front of your rectum. Its primary functions are to create fluids in your semen and force semen through your urethra when you ejaculate. Your prostate will likely get larger as you age, which is normal. Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer that affects men and people AMAB. It’s a good idea to get regular prostate screenings after you turn 50. If you notice any symptoms that indicate prostate conditions, talk to your healthcare provider.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 08/09/2022.

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