What Does the Prostate Do?

Last Modified: March 1, 2011

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Question

Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"

Does the prostate do anything important? Or is it like the appendix that you won’t miss it after it is removed?

Answer

Neha Vapiwala , MD, Senior Editor of OncoLink and Chief Resident in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, responds:

The prostate is an organ that has glandular and muscular tissue. It is located under the bladder and in front of the rectum and is found only in males. It's not technically part of the urinary tract, although it does play a major role in normal urinary function. This is because the urethra runs through the prostate - this is a tube that runs from the bladder and through the penis. The prostate is responsible for secreting approximately 1/3 of the fluid in the semen a man ejaculates. This fluid is important to fertility because it protects and nourishes the sperm as it enters the female body.

So if your entire prostate is removed or rendered non-functional, there would be a decrease or lack of ejaculate, and a consequent effect on fertility.

This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat Series. See the full transcript of Prostate cancer treatment: where are we now?