What Is Prostatic Fluid?

The prostate is a walnut-sized gland located below the bladder and in front of the rectum.

Many people are familiar with the prostate, but do you know what prostatic fluid is?

This article will tell you what prostatic fluid is and its role inside and outside the prostate gland.

What is prostatic fluid?

Prostatic fluid naturally comes from the prostate gland. It is an integral part of sperm and makes up a large portion of sperm volume. 

It’s a fluid that contains several enzymes, and they are important for healthy ejaculation. It is an anti-clotting mechanism we have to make sperm more fluid. Moreover, it also works inside the vagina helping sperm cells go through the cervical mucus.

This prostatic fluid contains three main proteins. They are acid phosphatase, the prostate-specific antigen (PSA), and others. For example, prostatic growth factors, cytokines, and a myriad of minor substances.

Where is it?

Prostatic fluid is inside the prostate gland. This gland has a secretory tube and a myriad of branching tubules connected to the ejaculatory duct. 

They end up in structures known as acini, a small dilation located at each tip. A coat of fibromuscular tissue surrounds each acinus. This tissue moves on its own; it is made up of muscle.

Prostate fluid will stay all over the acini and throughout the branching secretory tubes until ejaculation happens. 

At this moment, the fibromuscular cover contracts and pulls prostate fluid out of the acini into the secretory tube and out to the prostatic urethra.

How is it made?

The prostate has a variety of areas. The peripheral zone and the prostate’s central zone are two significant areas, and they are filled with secretory cells. 

Studies show that each region has a role in creating a specific set of enzymes. They all produce the same fluid, but it has slightly more proteolytic enzymes in the central zone.

The secretory cells responsible for the production of prostate fluid are arranged in groups by type. They create prostatic fluid components and store them in tiny granules. 

The granules contain PSA, acid phosphatase, and many other substances, and they are gradually released to the acini whenever needed.

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Its function

To break down the functions of the prostatic fluid, let us go through each of its components. It contains:

Acid phosphatase

This substance is very abundant in prostatic fluid. Before PSA, acid phosphatase was also proposed as a prostate cancer marker. But it is also synthesized outside of the prostate, so it is not specific for the disease. In the prostate, it regulates prostate cell growth.

Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA)

This is a famous substance because it is highly specific for the prostate. In other words, it is not synthesized anywhere else. Thus, it is very useful to detect prostate cancer or an enlarged prostate (prostatic hyperplasia). 

It is a protease, which means that it breaks down proteins. It has an anti-clotting effect in semen by cleaving clot-forming substances called semenogelins. Thus, it becomes a very fluid substance, easier to transport and eject during ejaculation.

Transglutaminase

It is also useful to break down the gel formed quickly after ejaculating. The coagulum dissolves aided by PSA.

Calcitonin

This is another enzyme in prostatic fluid. Once calcitonin makes contact with sperm cells, it binds to the neck region. Calcitonin helps sperm cells move faster in the ejaculate.

As you can see, the prostate plays a role in fertility. Not having a prostate gland reduces the volume of semen and may also reduce the chance of pregnancy. 

However, you don’t require it for fertility. Thus, it is an advantage for success, but you won’t become infertile after radical prostatectomy. Erectile dysfunction is not directly caused by not having a prostate, either.

What does it say about your health?

Besides the apparent reproductive function, prostatic fluid is fundamental for our health. 

Prostatic fluid analysis may become useful to rule out some health issues. For example, we no longer use acid phosphatase as a prostate cancer marker, but it is helpful to identify high-risk patients.

Recent studies suggest comparing a prostate exam with a seminal fluid analysis. You can obtain it through prostatic massage. 

It could help us understand more about nonbacterial prostatitis. In these cases, expressed prostatic secretion proteins may help us detect the cause of chronic prostatitis and other prostate conditions.

Moreover, we can also talk about prostatic calculi. They form even if you don’t have benign prostatic hyperplasia or another noticeable prostatic disease. 

They crystalize inside of the prostate when prostatic fluid gets stagnant. It is not necessarily because of a lack of sex. 

Every release of prostatic fluid happens in a wave-like form, and even after ejaculating, there is residual prostatic secretion. It condenses and forms prostatic calculi, especially when the prostate undergoes inflammation. 

Prostatic calculi contribute to making prostatic flow stagnant, and this can lead to infections and bacterial prostatitis.

Conclusion

The seminal plasma is made of a variety of substances. One of them comes from the prostate tissue, and it is called prostatic fluid. The prostate drains this substance into the urethra.

It has the famous PSA molecule used to screen for prostate cancer and many other enzymes. They are all synthesized by secretory cells located throughout the gland and released during ejaculation.

The prostatic fluid prevents clotting and gel formation in semen right after ejaculation. It also helps sperm cells in their way into the cervical opening into the uterus. You can say that prostatic fluid increases the chance of fecundation. 

However, it is not required for fertility, and you can still have children after having your prostate removed.

Next Up

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12 Steps To Better Prostate Health.

Sources

  1. Hayward, S. W., & Cunha, G. R. (2000). The prostate: development and physiology. Radiologic Clinics of North America, 38(1), 1-14. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10664663/
  2. Aumüller, G., & Seitz, J. (1990). Protein secretion and secretory processes in male accessory sex glands. International review of cytology, 121, 127-231. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2190945/
  3. Kong, H. Y., & Byun, J. (2013). Emerging roles of human prostatic acid phosphatase. Biomolecules & therapeutics, 21(1), 10. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24009853/
  4. Mattsson, J. M., Ravela, S., Hekim, C., Jonsson, M., Malm, J., Närvänen, A., … & Koistinen, H. (2014). Proteolytic activity of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) towards protein substrates and effect of peptides stimulating PSA activity. PloS one, 9(9), e107819. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25237904/

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