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Ate Anna

    Things men & women need to know

    about the small sex organ

Dear Ate Anna,

My husband is 58 years old. Lately, I have noticed that he needs to go to the bathroom more frequently, especially during the night. He also takes a longer time to urinate. Is this a normal sign of getting older?


Dear Dora,

Lines of wisdom (wrinkles), grey hairs and a receding hairline are normal signs of a man who is “maturing.” Frequent urination or urinary difficulties are not normal. It is important for your husband to see a doctor to find out the cause of his problem and receive appropriate treatment.

For men 50 and over, there is one particular area of health that they should pay attention to – prostate health. The prostate is a small sexual organ – about the size and shape of a walnut. It is located below the bladder and wraps around the urethra, the tube that carries urine out from the bladder. The prostate produces fluids that mix with the man’s sperm to form semen.

Prostate enlargement is the most common prostate health problem affecting men 50 and over. Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is the medical term for prostate enlargement.

It is thought that as a man ages, changes in hormone levels can stimulate the prostate to grow. As tissues in the prostate enlarge, they often compress the urethra and partially block the flow of urine, causing difficulty urinating. A man with a family history of prostate enlargement has an increased chance of developing this problem.

Ate Anna should say that not all men with prostate enlargement have signs and symptoms. However, it is estimated that about half of men in their 60s will develop some signs and symptoms; by age 80, about 90% of men will have experienced symptoms. Medications and other treatments are available to relieve the uncomfortable symptoms of prostate enlargement that may include:

Weak stream of urine
Difficulty starting urination
Stopping and starting while urinating
Straining while urinating
Frequent need to urinate
Increased frequency of urination at night
Urgent need to urinate
Not being able to completely empty the bladder
Blood in the urine
Urinary tract infection

Prostate enlargement does interfere with a man’s ability to empty his bladder. If left untreated, it can lead to serious health complications such as a sudden and painful inability to urinate, frequent urinary tract infections, bladder stones, and damage to the bladder, urethra and kidneys.

Some people confuse prostate enlargement with prostate cancer. Prostate enlargement is a non-cancerous condition. There is no known link between prostate enlargement and prostate cancer.

However, a man with prostate cancer may develop symptoms that are similar to prostate enlargement as the disease progresses. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men. Like breast cancer in women, age is a risk factor. The risk of developing prostate cancer increases as men get older. One in seven men is expected to develop prostate cancer during his lifetime, mostly likely after age 60. If prostate cancer is detected early, it can often be cured with treatment. In the early stages of prostate cancer, a man may not have any signs or symptoms. Men over 50 should ask their doctors about special tests that can help detect early changes in the prostate that may lead to cancer.

Dora, both men and women need to know about prostate health. Please pass this information on to your husband. If a woman notices changes in her husband/partner’s urinary pattern, she should encourage him to see a doctor as soon as possible. The constant need to find a bathroom nearby can be embarrassing and can disrupt a man’s social life, as well as his sex life. Don’t let the bathroom become the centre of his life.

For more information about prostate health, visit:;
or the Canadian Cancer Society.

Take Care,
Ate Anna

Ate Anna welcomes your question and comments. Please write to: Ate Anna, 2nd floor, 555 Broadway, Winnipeg, MB. R3C OW4 or e-mail:

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