With all the talk about prostate cancer and treatments for enlarged prostate for older men, the prostate gland has become well-known throughout the modern world. Since all the media seems targeted to men, some people have questioned whether women have prostate gland or not. Leaf through any anatomy book and you will see that women do not have a prostate gland. However, there is another structure, called the Skene's gland, that is often called the female prostate because it has a similar position and a similar role.
Position of the Prostate Gland
In men, this important gland sits inside the urethra. This is why it makes urination difficult when it becomes enlarged or diseased in some way. It forms a physical blockage. Its location is pretty much the same for all men. The prostate rests between the penis and the bladder in a position near the rectum inside the body.
The Skene's gland in women is positioned in much the same way as the male prostate gland if it is present at all in the body. Some women have one and some women don't. They can also be different sizes and found in slightly different positions within the urethra.
The structures of both glands, the male and female prostates, are very similar. All the tiny physical parts that make up the male version are also found in the female version. However, they are all much smaller.
Purpose of the Prostate Gland
The male prostate gland aids in the production of semen and facilitates the expulsion of sperm during orgasm. The components of this fluid also protect sperm and keep them mobile to aid in fertilization of the female egg. Women do not have semen, of course, which makes the Skene's gland quite a bit different in purpose than a prostate.
This so-called female prostate does secrete fluid that cannot only lubricate the urethra but also contains antimicrobial properties that can help prevent urinary tract infections. Also, researchers believe that it may be the source of female ejaculate that can be emitted from some women during sexual relations and orgasm. Some also believe it is the location of what is termed the G-spot, though this is up for debate still. The positioning of each thing often varies considerably.
Both the male and female glands produce a compound known as prostate-specific antigen (PSA). Just like in men, this antigen can be an indicator of cancerous growth. In men, the cancer is usually directly in the prostate gland if the levels of PSA go up. In women, the levels can occasionally indicate cancer of the Skene's gland, but also others such as breast cancer.
When people ask, "do only men have a prostate gland?" They may be thinking of the anatomical entity spoken about in men's health shows and advertisements for prescription medications. Women do not have that type of prostate gland. However, according to the Federal International Committee on Anatomical Terminology, the Skene's gland can acceptably be called the female prostate.