What is a prostate? The prostate is a small soft gland found between the bladder and rectum in the male reproductive system. Although most people know it by name, many are unaware of its functions. Its primary purpose is to produce seminal fluid, which, together with sperm, comprises semen. It contributes 20% to 30% of the fluid in semen.
Additionally, it has muscles that assist in the expulsion of semen during ejaculation. Since the prostate wraps around the urethra, this makes the gland responsible for controlling urine flow. The prostate, which is the size of a walnut, also contributes to the male hormone production of DHT. This hormone ensures that males have sexual development.
Considering the prostate's critical roles, having a healthy male reproductive gland is imperative. This article addresses the common health problems associated with the prostate and the solutions.
What Are the First Signs of Prostate Problems?
Problems related to the prostate constitute a prevalent issue impacting men's health, with advancing age being a prominent factor. This central walnut-shaped organ beneath the bladder is essential to reproductive function. Nevertheless, an array of conditions can adversely affect its proper functioning, leading to discomfort along with potential complications. Recognizing and identifying early signs of prostate problems hold paramount importance since they allow for timely interventions, thereby enhancing treatment efficacy greatly. Here are the initial signs you need to be aware of:
Acute Bacterial Prostatitis
This is the sudden swelling of the prostate from a bacterial infection. Urination difficulties and abnormalities treatable using antibiotics characterize prostatitis.
Chronic Bacterial Prostatitis
This condition occurs after a persistent bacterial infection of the bladder and can be debilitating. Treatment involves a long-term antibiotic dosage to clear the symptoms.
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia
This is a common ailment in older men where the prostate enlarges; fortunately, it's not cancerous. Doctors use different methods to shrink prostate tissue, including surgery.
This resulting condition occurs due to the uncontrolled formation of cancerous cells in the prostate. According to the American Cancer Society, it is among the top causes of cancer deaths among American men.
Asymptomatic Inflammatory Prostatitis
Refers to prostate inflammation but without pain or symptoms. A doctor diagnoses it during other urine tests and it does not require treatment.
What Causes Prostate Problems?
The precise cause of the most common prostate problems like enlargement, or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), remains unidentified. Factors related to cell changes in the testicles, coupled with testosterone levels, may play a role in gland growth. Prostate enlargement probability increases with age.
Some prostate problems like BPH are so prevalent that it's posited all men will experience it if they live long enough. Prostate enlargement is observed in many men over 40, with over 90% of men over 80 having the condition. No specific risk factors have been pinpointed for BPH, other than the requirement of normally functioning testicles. Therefore, further research is needed to determine the exact cause and potential preventive measures for most common prostate-related problems.
How to Improve Prostate Health Naturally?
The prostate is prone to health problems as it grows larger due to old age. A bigger prostate puts pressure on the urethra and compromises bladder function, urination, and in the worst cases, causes kidney failure. Moreover, treatment for prostate problems is high, with cancer surgery costing up to over $15,000 at the initial stage.
Do you want to learn how to improve prostate health naturally? Luckily, there are natural measures that promote prostate health and prevent diseases. Understanding how you can improve your prostate health is critical in reducing severe problems like cancer in the future. Below are some natural ways you can go about doing this:
Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
You should include fruits and vegetables in your meals since they are powerhouses of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. Aim for lycopene-rich fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, watermelons, and other pink fruits. Lycopene is an excellent antioxidant, and it also enhances sperm quality.
Reduce Red Meat Consumption
Reducing the amount of red meat you consume can improve your prostate health. According to the World Health Organization, eating red meat can promote cancer, including prostate cancer. Instead, choose a diet rich in omega-3. You can include sardines, salmon, eggs, and walnuts.
Take Green Tea
Green tea contains anti-carcinogenic and antioxidant properties called polyphenols. The prostate absorbs polyphenols more than other body parts, and it helps to soothe chronic prostatitis. Compounds in green tea also help with an enlarged prostate by reducing the excessive growth of cells responsible for the enlargement.
Engaging in physical exercise improves your general and prostate health. Taking 30 minutes of aerobic activity like hiking or swimming improves prostate health by promoting the release of antioxidants. Studies have proved that exercises are able to slow the progression of cancer in men.
Take Dietary Supplements
Supplements containing saw palmetto improve prostate health and were first used by Native Americans to treat urinary problems. Saw palmetto extracts inhibit the growth of cancerous cells and reduce enlarged prostate symptoms. This supplement is reported safe to use with no harsh side effects. Other supplements that boost prostate health include selenium and zinc.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What Does the Prostate Do?
Many men are often at a loss when it comes to the function of this gland. The prostate is an accessory male reproductive structure whose primary duty is to produce additional seminal fluid. The fluid, together with other secretions from seminal vesicles and the testicles, comprises semen. The prostatic fluid contains enzymes that nourish the sperm cells and allow sperm to travel easily.
Without these fluid secretions, sperm cells cannot function properly. The prostate has muscles that contract during ejaculation and aid in pushing semen. The prostate surrounds the urethra and controls urine flow by blocking it from mixing with semen.
On the other hand, it ensures that semen cannot enter the bladder by closing the ducts during urination, explaining why it is anatomically impossible to ejaculate and urinate simultaneously. The other function of the prostate is the synthesis of male hormones. This gland also transforms testosterone into DHT, the male sex development hormone. So, next time someone asks you what does the prostate do, you can fill them in.
What Is Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer is a type of cancer that commonly affects the prostate gland, a small walnut-shaped gland located below the bladder in men. This cancer develops when abnormal cells multiply and form a tumor in that area. In its early stages, prostate cancer often doesn't present noticeable symptoms. However, as the disease progresses, these symptoms may arise:
- Difficulty urinating
- Blood in the urine
- Erectile dysfunction
- Pelvic pain
Several factors that increase the risk of developing prostate cancer include age, family history of the disease, and certain genetic factors. Regular screenings are advisable to detect prostate cancer early on. These screenings typically involve a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test and a digital rectal exam (DRE).
Treatment options available for prostate cancer depend on how advanced and aggressive the cancer is. They may include surgery, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of all these approaches.
What Causes Prostate Cancer?
It is unclear what causes prostate cancer; however, researchers have studied the risk factors. Firstly, prostate cancer occurs when there are changes to the cells' DNA. The changes affect the gene that controls cell functions, including their growth. This results in the proliferation of abnormal cells that eventually turn into tumors.
When this happens, the immune system unsuccessfully eliminates the abnormal cells, and they end up in the nearby tissues. Initially, the cells are benign, but with time they turn cancerous. Understanding the risk factors is crucial in minimizing the chances of developing the disease.
One of the significant risk factors is age, as it develops mainly in men above 45. Since prostate cancer is also in the DNA, it's crucial to determine whether you have a family history of the disease. Ethnicity is also a risk factor, as African American men are at a higher risk of developing the disease.
Where Is the Prostate Located?
It is essential to know the meaning of 'prostate' to understand where the prostate is located. Did you know that the word prostate comes from a Greek term meaning "one who stands"? Comparably, the prostate is an internal organ that stands below the neck of the bladder and in front of the rectum.
While touching your prostate is impossible, you can feel it through the rectum. However, doctors don't recommend self-examination. The location of the prostate makes it easier for doctors to perform rectal examinations to determine potential problems. Additionally, the prostate's location enables it to complete its functions.
For instance, the seminal vesicles lie on top of the prostate. These glands secrete fluids that combine with prostatic fluids to form semen. The prostate also lies below the bladder and wraps itself around the urethra, enabling it to control urine flow.
When to Get a Prostate Exam?
Would you like to know when to get a prostate exam? According to the American Cancer Society, you should have your first screening at 50. However, it's safer to go earlier when you are 45 if you are a black male or prostate cancer exists in your family. Prostate cancer is life-threatening but easy to treat and manage when detected early.
Again if you are showing urinary symptoms, it's best to get a prostate exam to rule out cancer. Medical organizations recommend having annual screenings as early detection helps to eliminate 90% of the problems. The screening involves two types of tests; a PSA blood test and a digital rectal assessment (DRE). A DRE is a quick and painless exam a doctor performs in his office. On the other hand, the blood test checks PSA levels. High levels of PSA could mean there's a prostate problem.
What Does a Prostate Do for a Man?
Although not necessary for survival, the prostate plays a crucial role in men's reproduction. It possesses abilities that determine a man's fertility. For instance, it enhances ejaculation by providing part of the semen through secretions.
The prostatic fluid is crucial for the consistency of healthy semen. It also provides an optimal environment for the transit, survival, and fertilization of sperm. This thin fluid enables sperm cells to move more effortlessly. The prostatic secretions contain various enzymes and substances necessary for sperm to reach the egg, even in an acidic environment.
Additionally, semen protects against bacteria and pathogens that could harm sperm cells. During adolescence, the prostate allows for synthesizing DHT, the hormone that controls male sex characteristics. In the question of what a prostate does for a man, it undoubtedly controls his fertility and urination capabilities.
At What Age Do Prostate Problems Start?
The prostate grows larger as men age and can enlarge up to four times more. This enlargement puts pressure on the urethra, causing problems when passing urine. It's common knowledge that they affect older men, but at what age do prostate problems start?
The prostate starts enlarging from age 25, but it's often unnoticeable. While men as young as 30 or 40 may begin noticing symptoms related to prostate problems, most men don't realize until they are 50. One out of three men that are 50 experience prostate problems.
By 70 years, 90% of men already have these symptoms. The problems mostly show through frequency and difficulty in urination. On the onset of these symptoms, you may begin making dietary and lifestyle changes to alleviate the challenges. However, starting preventive measures to curb prostate problems is never too early.
Can a Prostate Go Back To Normal?
Once a prostate has grown large, it has no cure but treatments to relieve the pain. While benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) may not lead to prostate cancer, leaving the enlargement untreated won't shrink it. However, treatments to help shrink it include alpha-blockers and 5-alpha inhibitors. Alpha-blockers work by relaxing the prostate muscles and easing urinating.
5-alpha blockers work by blocking hormones that encourage prostate enlargement. In cases where the prostate is too big, or the medications don't work, doctors may suggest surgery to remove the prostate. BPH causes a weak urine stream and other urinary issues, but it's treatable, giving you a more fulfilling life even with enlargement.
Can a prostate go back to normal? Yes! With lifestyle changes and early treatment. If the enlargement doesn't go away even with medications, seeking other treatment options is best.
What Exercise Shrinks Prostate?
An enlarged prostate can pose a problem to the urinary tract. Knowing what exercise shrinks the prostate can help to reduce the symptoms. One of the measures to shrink a prostate includes engaging in physical activity. Belly fat and obesity are conditions often related to prostate enlargement, and aerobic exercise can help boost metabolism, which burns the fat.
Doing two and a half hours of walking, cycling, or swimming can positively impact your prostate health and fight inflammation. Different from what many think, Kegel exercises are not only for women. Doing these exercises helps to strengthen the pelvic muscles and relieve prostate problems. They can also help with post-prostate surgery and urine control. In addition, the cobbler pose is a yoga pose that helps to shrink the prostate by releasing tension in the pelvic floor.
What to Expect After Prostate Is Removed?
It's essential to understand what to expect after the prostate is removed. After the prostatectomy or removal of the prostate, expect to be sore and your scrotum to swell. It is a major surgery, and the healing process may be slow.
The surgeon will also likely remove a valve outside the prostate that helps hold in urine. You will also have a catheter inserted to drain urine for not more than two weeks. The catheter may cause discomfort, but the doctors prescribe pain management medications. Even after the removal of the catheter, it may take some time to regain urine control. Thus, you may experience leaks when laughing or sneezing but do not panic, as this will go away over time. In addition, you may also notice erectile dysfunction for a period of six months to a year.
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