A healthy prostate is key for men’s wellbeing
Learn the symptoms of an enlarged prostate and how to treat it
What is the prostate gland?
The prostate gland is a small male reproductive organ in men, located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum. The urethra (the tube carrying urine from the bladder) runs through the middle of the prostate to the penis, letting urine flow out of your body.
One of the main roles of the prostate is to produce the fluid that protects and enriches sperm. The muscles of the prostate also help to project seminal fluid into the urethra during ejaculation. For these reasons, a healthy prostate is vital for a man to experience a vigorous sex life.
What is an enlarged prostate?
While the prostate is in a great location for delivering important fluids and squeezing things along when the time is right, unfortunately, its position around the urethra can be a liability if the gland swells or grows. A swollen prostate compresses the urethra and irritates the walls of the bladder, interfering with normal urination or ejaculation. A growing prostate can also signal cancer.
Who is affected by an enlarged prostate?
It is normal for the prostate gland to enlarge as men get older. This can begin around the age of 40 and is thought to be caused by normal hormonal changes. This enlargement can press on the tube carrying urine from the bladder (the urethra) and cause problems with the bladder and kidneys. This is known as benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH). As the prostate enlarges, it may squeeze the urethra, or even partially block it.
An enlarged prostate doesn’t cause prostate cancer, however, prostate cancer can occur in men that have an enlarged prostate.
Who is at risk of developing an enlarged prostate?
An enlarged prostate and the development of lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) are age-dependent. BPH isn’t usually seen in men under the age of 40. However, autopsy studies have demonstrated that up to 80 percent of 80-year-old men will have evidence of BPH. Approximately 40 percent of those same men will demonstrate an enlarged prostate on physical examination; however, only 25-30 percent of 80-year-old men will have symptomatic BPH and pursue treatment.
Another risk factor for prostate enlargement is family history. If a close relative – such as your father or brother – has suffered, or is suffering, from an enlarged prostate it means you are more likely to suffer from the same condition.
Also, if you suffer from diabetes or heart disease, or use beta-blockers, this may increase the risk of you developing an enlarged prostate. Lifestyle factors can also increase the risk of developing an enlarged prostate. If you are overweight or obese and do not regularly exercise, there is an increased risk of developing an enlarged prostate.
12 signs and symptoms of an enlarged prostate (BPH)
Enlargement of the prostate gland narrows the urethra, leading to a number of possible urinary-related symptoms. The severity of the signs and symptoms of prostate enlargement varies from person to person, however, they tend to gradually worsen over time. Common signs of an enlarged prostate include:
- A frequent or urgent need to urinate.
- Increased frequency of urination at night (nocturia).
- Difficulty in starting to urinate.
- A weak urine stream, or a stream that stops and starts.
- Dribbling at the end of urination.
- Straining while urinating.
- The inability to completely empty your bladder.
Common symptoms of BPH include:
- Repeated urinary tract infections (UTIs).
- The inability to urinate.
- Blood in the urine.
- Enlargement and thickening of the bladder.
- Bladder stones.
The extent of your prostate enlargement isn’t necessarily an indicator of how bad your symptoms will be. Some men, with only a slightly enlarged prostate, can experience worse symptoms than those who have a significantly enlarged prostate gland.
Many men experience continued prostate growth throughout their lives. In some, this continued growth enlarges the prostate enough to cause urinary symptoms or block urine flow, while other men may experience only minor symptoms.
What causes an enlarged prostate (BPH)?
The exact causes of an enlarged prostate are unclear, but some experts believe it may be due to changes in the balance of sex hormones as men age and, in particular, the primary male sex hormone testosterone. What is clear, however, is that there are two conditions necessary for the development of BPH; aging and the presence of testes.
Normally, the prostate gland is approximately the size of a walnut. As men age, and under the influence of male hormones, the prostate can grow to many times its normal size. In some men, it may become as large as a grapefruit.
An enlarging prostate and the development of LUTS (lower urinary tract symptoms) are an unfortunate consequence of aging. The prostate gland grows with men as they age, although the reason for this is not well understood.
Throughout life, men produce testosterone and a small amount of oestrogen (the primary female sex hormone). As men age, the amount of active testosterone in their blood decreases, leaving a higher proportion of oestrogen.
Some scientific studies suggest that prostate enlargement occurs because the increased proportion of oestrogen within the prostate gland actively stimulates the cells within the prostate to grow. This is called hyperplasia.
4 ways an enlarged prostate is diagnosed
Men who have an enlarged prostate may be symptom-free at first. However, your medical professional will provide an accurate diagnosis and may refer you to a urologist for confirmation. They will rule out other possible causes for the symptoms, including prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate) or prostate cancer, before diagnosing BPH.
If you notice blood in your urine, you should consult your medical practitioner without delay.
In order to diagnose the condition, your doctor or specialist will most likely undertake the following:
- Medical history. This includes the nature, duration and severity of the current symptoms, the presence of any other medical conditions and family history of prostate problems.
- Physical examination. During a physical examination, the doctor may feel your abdomen for signs of an enlarged bladder and perform a digital rectal examination (DRE) to check for enlargement or irregularity of the prostate gland.
- Blood tests. These will be performed to check kidney function and to check the PSA (prostate specific antigen). PSA is a protein released into the blood by the prostate gland. Higher than normal levels can indicate an enlarged prostate, prostate inflammation (prostatitis) or prostate cancer. The PSA level tends to be significantly elevated in prostate cancer, but not always.
- Urine tests. These can show infection or the presence of blood in the urine. Other urine tests can measure strength and volume of flow and whether the bladder can be emptied completely.
If blood tests indicate an elevated PSA and the digital rectal examination indicates irregularities of the prostate, a biopsy of the prostate gland may be advised in order to rule out prostate cancer. An ultrasound scan of the prostate and urinary tract may also be recommended in some cases.
Preparing for a doctor’s appointment if you have enlarged prostate symptoms
If you make an appointment to see your medical practitioner it can be helpful to prepare beforehand in order to aid an accurate diagnosis. Here are some points to consider:
- Make a list of your symptoms.
- Keep a track of how often and when you urinate, whether you feel you're completely emptying your bladder or not, and how much liquid you drink.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements that you're currently taking.
4 questions to ask your doctor about an enlarged prostate
- Do I have an enlarged prostate, or is something else likely to be causing my symptoms?
- What tests do I need to undergo?
- What are my treatment options?
- Are there any restrictions on sexual activity?
15 questions your doctor may ask you about your prostate symptoms
- When did you first begin experiencing urinary related symptoms?
- Have they been continuous or occasional?
- Have they gradually worsened over time, or did they come on suddenly?
- How often do you have to urinate during the day, and how often do you need to get up at night?
- Have you ever leaked urine?
- Do you have a frequent or urgent need to urinate? Is it difficult for you to begin urinating?
- Do you start and stop when urinating, or feel like you have to strain?
- Does it ever feel like you haven't completely emptied your bladder?
- Is there a burning sensation when you urinate, pain in your bladder area or blood in your urine?
- Have you had any urinary tract infections?
- Do you have a family history of an enlarged prostate, prostate cancer or kidney stones?
- Have you ever had any trouble getting and maintaining an erection (erectile dysfunction), or other sexual problems?
- Are you taking any blood thinners?
- How much caffeine do you consume?
- What is your fluid intake?
How is an enlarged prostate treated?
Treatment of an enlarged prostate will depend upon the severity of your symptoms and the diagnosis of your doctor.
If you have urination problems caused by an enlarged prostate and they are mild to moderate and do not bother you, then home treatment may be enough to help keep them from interfering with your day-to-day activities. Your medical practitioner may want to see you regularly to check on the progress of symptoms and may recommend a ‘watch and wait’ approach. In this case, you may choose to consider using a natural supplement such as Prostate PowerFlow.
In cases of moderate to severe urinary problems caused by an enlarged prostate, your doctor may prescribe medications. One type of medication is called an alpha blocker, which can relieve symptoms within a few weeks, but which doesn’t stop the prostate from continuing to grow. Another type is called a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor, which may take up to six months or longer to show an effect on symptoms.
If there are complications, or the symptoms have become severe, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove or destroy prostate tissue. The most common surgery is called transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP), which involves removing prostate tissue with electric current or laser.
7 things you can do at home to help treat prostatitis
- Remember to empty your bladder, especially when you know you won’t be able to reach a toilet easily.
- Avoid fizzy drinks and those containing caffeine.
- Avoid alcohol.
- Avoid eating inflammatory foods like refined carbohydrates, gluten, sugar, spicy or acidic foods.
- Eat whole and natural foods that help to reduce inflammation, such as vegetables, fruits and high-fibre foods.
- Do bladder training exercises.
- Take a natural herbal supplement such as Prostate PowerFlow.
How Prostate PowerFlow helps support prostate health
When taken daily, Prostate PowerFlow’s formulation works to support prostate health. It contains the following four key active ingredients:
- Saw Palmetto. Saw Palmetto is commonly used in Europe and the U.S as a treatment for an enlarged prostate. Some small studies have shown Saw Palmetto might help with BPH symptoms in several ways. These include:
- You may need to get up less often at night to urinate.
- It can improve your flow when you go.
- It can ease painful urination.
- Lycopene. Tomato-derived lycopene supports a healthy prostate and has been shown to reduce the risk of certain cancers. It can help stop the enlargement of the prostate and prevent this condition from progressing to prostate cancer.
- Selenium. Selenium provides antioxidant protection. Prostate PowerFlow provides up to 50 percent of the Selenium RDA to support men’s prostate health in New Zealand (RDA varies in different countries).
- Zinc is necessary for the manufacture of testosterone, which is the key male hormone for potency and fertility. Low zinc levels may contribute to low sperm count and low libido.
Good prostate health is a key for men coping with the inevitable hormonal changes that accompany aging. Prostate PowerFlow with Saw Palmetto, Zinc, Lycopene and Selenium may help alleviate the natural side effects of growing older.
To support your prostate health, it is suggested that you take two capsules of PowerFlow daily; one in the morning and one in the evening with food.
Prostate PowerFlow is 100% natural and free of unpleasant side effects. It is made in New Zealand to the highest standards, with thorough testing and guarantees of no adulteration or undeclared ingredients.
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Disclaimer. This information is provided for general informational purposes only and does not substitute for the advice provided by your medical professional. Always seek specific medical advice for treatment appropriate to you. Individual results may vary and are not guaranteed.