Understanding the anatomy surrounding the prostate can help you understand the physical effects of an enlarged prostate or why surgical removal of the prostate may have certain common side effects.
Prostate Cancer Canada - About the Prostate
Below is an interactive 3D rotation showing the location of the prostate relative to other major anatomical structures. Click and drag on the slider to rotate the anatomy and reveal the key structures. There are explanations of each structure below.
The pelvic area is located between the torso and the legs, and its bony elements connect the spine to the thigh bones. The pelvic bones fit together to form a bowl-like space called the "true pelvis" which houses the reproductive organs, bladder, and rectum.
These muscles form the bottom of the bowl or true pelvis. They wrap around the rectum and the urethra as they both lead out of the body. The contraction of these muscles can help control the flow of urine out of the urethra. They may be strengthened like any other muscle by doing a specific exercise called a Kegel exercise.
The urinary bladder collects urine excreted from the kidneys and stores it until it is excreted through urination. It is a muscular, elastic, sac-like organ. Urine flows out of the bladder via the urethra.
It is the tube that carries urine out of the body. The urethra in the male is a long tube that passes from the base of the bladder through the prostate, the pelvic floor, and the penis. There are two sphincter muscles that control the flow of urine through the urethra. The internal urethral sphincter is located where the urethra meets the bladder and is inside the prostate, and the external urethral sphincter is formed from the muscles of the pelvic floor.
Wedged between the bladder, rectum, and prostate lie the seminal vesicles - a pair of glands that are responsible for producing a large portion of the seminal fluid. Each seminal vesicle connects to the urethra via a tube that passes through the prostate.
The rectum is the very last part of the digestive tract. It sits within the true pelvis immediately behind the prostate. Thanks to its proximity, it is possible to feel the back of the prostate through the wall of the rectum.
The nerves seen in the anatomy above are part of the Hypogastric Plexus. Branches coming from this grouping of nerves send signals to the bladder, prostate, rectum, pelvic floor, and penis. They form the control centre of the true pelvis.