Do You Know the State of Your Prostate?

Gilbert Comola, Nurse Practitioner in the Department of Urology, discusses prostate health, including signs and symptoms that a man could have problems with his prostate and the importance of prostate exams.

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Stephanie Townsend:    Welcome to this edition of the Vanderbilt University Health and Wellness Wellcast.  I am Stephanie Townsend with Vanderbilt Occupational Health.  Welcome, we are here to talk with Gilbert Comola, nurse practitioner of the Department of Urology on the subject of prostate health What is the prostate?

Gilbert Comola, ANP:    The prostate is both gland and contains kind of some muscular tissue in it.  It is obviously just a male organ.  It is located just beneath the bladder, and it is part of your urethra which is the tube you urinate out of.  The gland material helps assist with reproduction.  It basically makes a lot of the fluid you see when a man ejaculates which helps nourish the sperm, and muscular aspect of it helps control continence or basically urine flow.  It can help hold urine in the bladder and then when it relaxes helps urine empty, and that is often where you start to have a problem.  The gland continues to grow as you get older, and that is when men may start having an issue because it kind of pushes down there on the urethra and can obstruct the flow of your urine.

Stephanie Townsend:    What are the signs and symptoms that a man may have an issue with his prostate?

Gilbert Comola, ANP:    If they start to feel like they are having issues with urination. Like it takes them longer to start their stream,  when the urine starts to flow, it kind of starts and stops, starts and stops, or if they just feel like they are going to the bathroom too often or too urgently, sometimes that can be signs of prostate issues.

Stephanie Townsend:    How often should man have a prostate exam?

Gilbert Comola, ANP:    Now that is somewhat debatable, but mostly, we will say every year to 2 years.

Stephanie Townsend:    Is there a stigma or emotional and physical barriers men face with this type of exam?

Gilbert Comola, ANP:    Certainly yes.  You could actually find a decent amount of research on that too if you went looking.  Most men are uncomfortable with the prostate exam because they feel like they are in a vulnerable position.  They are bent over the table, their pants are down, and another man or potentially woman is going to be putting a finger in their rectum, and the majority of men you would talk to regardless would just not be too comfortable with that.

Stephanie Townsend:    How can man overcome these barriers?

Gilbert Comola, ANP:    I think the important thing to remember is that this is more of a health thing.  It is not anything sexual or anything that should be viewed in that light.  I think women are much more advanced in this area than we are because they have things put in their organs all the time for health maintenance and have kind of just learned to deal with it to look at it saying that okay I understand that this is going to be a little uncomfortable but this is what I need to do to help take care of my body, and so if men can kind of get around that, it can help prevent a lot of issues down the road as far as their health is concerned.

Stephanie Townsend:    Do you have any additional information that people can go to to look up for prostate health?

Gilbert Comola, ANP:    Yes, certainly, one of the good websites you could go to any like if you are going to look up anything about prostate cancer and that type of things, and then, another good website would be the American Urology Association.  They have a lot of information about prostate and prostate health there as well.

Stephanie Townsend:    Thank you so much.  Thanks for listening.  Please feel free to leave us any comments on this Wellcast on the form at the bottom of this page.  If you have a story suggestion, please email it to us at, or you can use the “Contact Us” page on our website at