Because most members of MAG are approaching the twilight years, we are interested in those aspects of medicine, including diet and alternative therapies, which can enable us to maintain our health and fitness. Also, being gay men, we are interested in the medical aspects of the prevention of HIV-AIDS in our day to day lives and prevention of the spread of HIV-AIDS throughout the community. We are particularly interested in current treatments for persons with HIV-AIDS.
Anyone prodded your prostate lately?
When I turned 50 I bought myself a present: 40 minutes with a hunky urologist at St Vincent's. Worth the journey - he's married but then so what? I didn't get tense when he probed my arse: he did it gently, while I was lying down. No 'stand and deliver' routine with this guy! He put me into the foetal position (like a baby) sidewise on the bench, softly explained what he was about to do, put on gloves, used lube and slid his finger in. Doctors are cautioned about this: "The prostate examination should not be painful." "Feels like a normal prostate to me," he said.
Has anyone prodded your prostate lately? If you're over 60 you're irresponsible if you don't have annual checkups. If you've got a tight budget, remember that the doctors at Taylor Square Private Clinic bulk bill and all their appointments are a minimum 20 minutes. If you're going for a check-up, remember the doctor will need to take a urine sample. Don't piss before you turn up at the surgery.
By now some of you will be thinking 'What does a normal prostate feel like?' Medical journals search for a way to describe the 'feel' of the normal prostate: 'smooth and rubbery' is one description; another says 'similar to the tip of the nose'. Both are right.
One of the barriers to detecting and preventing prostate cancer is that many male doctors do not like performing rectal examinations! They believe it's 'unmanly', 'embarrassing', 'messy' and consider it to be time-consuming. At the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia they're very up-front about the way false ideals of masculinity make both doctors and patients ignore problems "down there". The problem is universal - but it's many times worse in Australia. Some blokes die rather than tell anyone! If the only available doctor is female, don't be shy - my last test was in a country town and I didn't hesitate to tell her what I needed.
In middle age it's natural that you might have trouble pissing. While the dribble that stains your best pants is actually just a teaspoon of liquid, it's one sign that you should not disregard. Remember what happens to a garden hose: leave it all curled up and dangling in the sun ... it gets kinks eventually that block the flow. Your dick is no different. You've been using it to piss and cum for decades but most of the time it just sits and dangles.
Perhaps you've never been fucked; perhaps you've lived a life of restraint and believe it can't happen - shouldn't happen - to you. My dears, sad to say, prostate trouble (benign or cancerous) rarely has anything to do with your sexuality. It's sometimes hereditary but most often its a direct function of ageing and of factors such as diet, stress and lack of exercise.
Don't try to be your own physician in a matter like this. A swollen prostate has many possible causes! And however uncomfortable and embarrassed you may feel, the condition often is benign. (Benign means 'not cancerous').
If your diagnosis is benign and the symptoms are mild then all you'll need is regular check-ups. If the symptoms are more severe, the treatments available include medication, heat treatment and the removal of tissue that's blocking the urethra (the tube through which your piss flows).
If the doctor believes it's necessary in the circumstances then he or she may organise a test for Prostate-Specific Antigens (PSA). It is a sensitive test but it's not a substitute for a digital examination. The most important role of PSA testing is in monitoring the progress of a man after he's been treated for cancer. After you go to the doctor, there's plenty of Web sites offering information about the prostate and treatments.
Remember you can access the Web free of charge at any public library; the staff are trained to help. Just use the search function and type in the word 'prostate'. The rest will happen automatically.
But for your own sake, go to the doctor first.