A Man's Prostate Starts Getting Bigger At This Young Age

As we grow, many of our organs grow with us. Just look at the brain, which reaches approximately 90% of its adult volume by the time we turn 6, only to then decrease in size as we hit our 30s and 40s, according to Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. While our brain may hit its peak size early on, the prostate continues to grow throughout one's lifetime, reports the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).

As a member of the male reproductive system, the prostate is pivotal to fertility as it's responsible for creating fluid that is one component of what makes up semen. At approximately ten to 12 weeks in the womb, the development of this small gland begins, as outlined in a 2021 scientific review published in Frontiers in Endocrinology. The prostate further develops during a period referred to as "mini-puberty," as testosterone levels increase following birth. Once this period has passed, testosterone levels fall, prostate volume decreases, and the organ's growth comes to a standstill until men reach the first growth phase around early puberty.

The growth stages of the prostate

The NIDDK reports that, throughout life, the prostate goes through two major growth stages, although according to the Frontiers in Endocrinology research, this could be considered three stages if counting mini-puberty. On average, people assigned male at birth enter the first stage of puberty between the ages of 9 and 14, according to Healthline. This is about the time when the first (or second) prostate growth stage occurs, lasting until the individual is roughly 20 years old. It's during this time that the gland increases in weight from approximately 10 grams to 20 grams and grows to about the size of a walnut.

The prostate remains this size until about the age of 25 when the organ then enters the second (or third) growth stage. This phase doesn't have an endpoint and continues as one ages. It's during this growth stage that men are most susceptible to benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), or an enlarged prostate. By the time an individual reaches their 40s, the prostate may become apricot-sized or closer to the size of a lemon or bigger once they reach their 60s.

What to know about benign prostatic hyperplasia

For men over the age of 50, most prostate problems can be traced to benign prostatic hyperplasia, reports the NIDDK. In fact, the condition reportedly affects half of men in their 50s and as many as 90% of men over 80 years old. In cases of BPH, prostate growth is noncancerous, but some people may be more vulnerable to the condition than others, including those with a family member with BPH or individuals with certain health conditions, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, or erectile dysfunction (ED).

Urination more than eight times a day, trouble initiating urination, urinary retention, dribbling after peeing, or incontinence are all possible symptoms of BPH that may arise due to the prostate compressing the urethra. However, because these symptoms can be associated with a number of alternate health conditions, it's important to speak to your doctor who can help diagnose the problem and develop a treatment plan. While the majority of men do not experience significant adverse effects associated with BPH, more serious cases can lead to bladder stones, kidney or bladder damage, or urinary tract infections (UTIs) — yes, men can get UTIs, too, but symptoms may present differently in men versus women.