Prostate Disorders Anatomy

The Function of the Prostate Gland

The function of the prostate is primarily reproductive: it contributes to the production of semen, the milky liquid that transports sperm. During ejaculation, the gland excretes seminal fluid into the urethra, the passage that serves as an exit channel for both semen and urine.

The gland is located in the pelvis, below the bladder and in front of the rectum. It wraps around the urethra, so urination difficulties occur if the gland enlarges or becomes inflamed.

Anatomy Definitions

Bladder: A sac in the pelvis that stores urine before excretion.

Ejaculatory Duct: The point at which the vas deferens and seminal vesicles meet, and where semen is excreted into the urethra.

Prostate: A gland found in the male pelvic area. The function of the prostate gland is to produce semen along with the seminal vesicles.

Diagram of the Prostate

Rectum: The final section of the intestine before the anus.

Semen: The milk-colored liquid that transports sperm.

Seminal Vesicles: Glands that secrete seminal fluid.

Testis: Sperm-producing portion of the male reproductive system.

Urethra: The tube used to drain the bladder and to transport semen.

Vas Deferens: Twin tubes that connect the testes to the urethra at the level of the prostate.

Medical Terminology

Antiandrogens: Substances that interfere with male sex hormones.

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH): A condition that causes an enlarged prostate, which may interfere with urination and sexual activity. As men age, the incidence of BPH rises.

Biopsy: The removal of small amounts of tissue from an organ for examination. A biopsy is usually performed with a long thin needle that is inserted into the organ.

Brachytherapy: A form of radiation therapy that uses implantation and other methods to deliver radiation as close to the organ as possible. Brachytherapy is more effective than traditional radiation therapy.

Chemotherapy: The use of a chemical substance to treat cancer.

Indolent: Slow growing. An indolent cancer does not progress rapidly.

Malignant: Life-threatening, especially when applied to carcinomas.

Metastasized: Describes cancerous cells that have spread to other organs.

Orchiectomy: The deliberate surgical removal of the testes.

Prostate cancer: The abnormal growth and spread of cells within the gland.

Prostatectomy: Surgical removal of the prostate. A radical prostatectomy removes the entire gland.

Prostatitis: The inflammation of the prostate. Prostatitis can be caused by infections, but more often causes for prostatitis cannot be found.

PSA: A protein produced by the prostate. In high levels, PSA indicates possible tumor growth.

Radiation Oncologist: A specialist in radiation therapy.

Radiation Therapy: The use of radiation to treat cancer.

Retrograde ejaculation: When semen shoots backwards into the bladder, instead of down the urethra. Orgasm is still possible for men with retrograde ejaculation, but infertility usually results. Certain surgical procedures can result in retrograde ejaculation.

TURP: A common surgical treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia. TURP uses a small tube to remove excess tissue in the urethral passage, thus allowing urine to flow better.

Urology: The study of the human urinary system. A urologist, a doctor who specializes in urology, is most often part of the team treating prostate disorders.


American Foundation for Urologic Disease. (nd). Glossary. Retrieved January 22, 2003, from

Prostate Services of America. (nd). Prostate anatomy defined. Retrieved January 22, 2003, from 0Deferens.