National Continence Helpline

8am - 8pm Monday to Friday AEST Talk to a continence nurse

Learn More

What is the prostate gland?

The prostate gland:

  • is only found in men
  • is about the size of a walnut
  • is below the base of the bladder
  • wraps around the urethra
  • makes a milky fluid, which is part of semen and feeds the sperm.

The prostate, along with the pelvic floor muscles, helps to control the flow of the urine from the bladder.

No Image

It is normal for the prostate gland to get bigger as men get older and this can cause bladder problems for some men. Changes to the prostate gland can happen over many years.

Some common prostate problems

  • Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) is when the prostate gets gradually larger as men get older. Some men need surgery for this, however it doesn't lead to cancer.
  • Prostate cancer is often found with a blood test called a PSA or through a digital rectal examination.
  • Prostatitis is a swelling and soreness of the prostate gland due to a bladder infection and is more common in young men.

What are the symptoms of a prostate problem?

Symptoms of a prostate problem include:

  • trouble starting the flow of urine
  • slow urine stream once started
  • needing to pass urine more often through the day or night
  • leaking after passing urine or between visits to the toilet
  • needing to pass urine soon after going to the toilet
  • feeling an urgent need to pass urine
  • burning or pain when passing urine
  • blood in the urine
  • a feeling that the bladder is not fully empty after going to the toilet.

Bladder problems and the prostate

Prostate problems can cause bladder control problems including:

  • a narrowing of the urethra - as the prostate grows and squeezes the urethra, it can sometimes stop the bladder from emptying completely and cause the urine to leak
  • an overactive bladder and urgency - if the bladder has to work harder to push urine through a very narrow urethra, it can cause an urgent need to pass urine.

Some men may need surgery for their prostate problem. After surgery, men can have greater urgency until the bladder goes back to normal. The surgery for prostate problems can damage the muscles and nerves of the urethra, which can be the cause of urinary incontinence.

Treatment for prostate problems

Men with prostate problems need to see their doctor. They may:

  • decide there's no need for surgery at this time
  • prescribe medicines
  • recommend prostate surgery
  • recommend the man see a continence nurse advisor for further treatment, such as bladder training
  • recommend the man see a continence nurse advisor or a pelvic health physiotherapist for pelvic floor muscle exercises. These exercises can help men control urine flow and reduce leakage by tightening the pelvic floor muscles.

Need more help? Call the National Continence Helpline on 18OO 33 OO 66 and talk to a continence nurse advisor.

Extra Resources

Take the Quiz

Question 1

The prostate gland:

is found in the brain

is only found in men

is found in men and women

is a gland that is lying flat on the body.

Question 2

Symptoms of a prostate problem may include:

a slow stream

trouble starting the flow of urine

blood in the urine

all of the above.

Question 3

Bladder problems caused by the prostate may include:

bladder leakage, because the urethra is too loose

bladder leakage, because of urine retention


overactive bladder and urgency.

Question 4

Treatment for prostate problems may involve:

a recommendation for prostate surgery

eating more fibre

restricted fluids

prescribe anti-depressants.

This information is not a substitute for independent professional advice.