Only men are blessed with a prostate gland. But the problems associated with the prostate becoming enlarged and abnormalities such as inflammation — medically known as prostatitis — are a concern for many women, too.
That’s because the disorder commonly leads to severe discomfort and sexual dysfunction, a condition some men regard as too unpleasant to discuss with their partners.
Fact is that studies show that up to half of all men will suffer from the painful condition at some point during their lifetime.
In the extreme, the ramifications of the distress go beyond lessening a desire for intimacy. Kurt Crain, 47, an assistant coach with the Southern Alabama football team and onetime All-America linebacker at Auburn, was reported to be suffering from severe depression because of prostatitis when he took his own life in April of 2012, leaving behind a wife and three children.
Dr. Allison Hopkins, author of “In Touch: An Exploration of Female Sexuality,” is an authority on relationship issues with a background of 15 years in helping couples to be forthcoming with each other and resolve their differences. Her perspective:
"Men often won't share they are in pain and don't feel like having sexual intercourse. They may be unable to attain an erection. So they avoid sexual intimacy. When this occurs, women tend to personalize it. They begin feeling their husband does not desire them, find them attractive or maybe even is falling out of love with them. These same women start to feel insecure about themselves and sometimes develop a negative body image. They, too, experience symptoms of depression as the relationship with their partners breaks down."
"In a perfect world,” Dr. Hopkins says, “men would share their feelings. But women are, in too many instances, unaware their partners’ prostate problems. Obviously, where there is an absence of communication, we lose the opportunity to explore the sensitivities of each partner and to pursue the treatment that will restore the quality of life in the relationship.”
So when their partner is not behaving in a normal way, Dr. Hopkins says, women should: “Ask questions."
But she cautions: “These questions should be couched so that they have a physical basis and not an emotional one, taking extreme care to avoid critical judgments.”
“Prostate problems do not mean your sexual relationship becomes obsolete. They simply mean you need to redefine your sexual relationship. Satisfaction comes from intimacy, not orgasm or ejaculation.”
Additional information about Dr. Hopkins’ solutions to relationship problems is available online at www.drallisonhopkins.com.
Prostate gland at-a-glance
- The prostate is a walnut-sized gland located directly below the bladder in men, encircling the urethra. Its purpose: to produce and transport
semen. With advancing age, the prostate tends to become enlarged and inflamed.
- Studies show more than 31 percent of men experience the disorder
after age 50 and the figure rises to 36 percent after age 60 and later to
44 percent after age 70. The incidence rises even more as years advance.
- In a benign state the condition causes an impediment to urination and possibly pain in the area of the groin, pelvic or lower back--also in
some cases flu-like symptoms.
- Neither enlargement nor inflammation are considered life-threatening. But men have a 13-percent chance of developing prostate cancer,
comparable to the incidence of breast cancer in women.
- Causes of prostate abnormalities: bacterial and viral infections, stress and irregular sexual activity are believed to be factors. But the
nexus has not been conclusively established and research is deplorably underfunded.
- Treatment runs from anti-inflammatory medications and muscle relaxants to hot baths, dietary change, stress management and finally surgery.
Additional information is available from The Prostatitis Foundation online at www.prostatitis.org.