Yes, it’s the prostate, that walnut-sized, muscular gland that is part of the male reproductive system. Located under the bladder and surrounding the urethra, the main functions of the prostate gland are to secrete prostate fluid, one of the components of semen, and to aid ejaculation of semen during male orgasm. Extremely important for both sexual and urinary functions, yet not essential for life, the prostate is an often misunderstood or overlooked gland. That is, until trouble develops. It is estimated that more than 30 million men suffer from prostate conditions that can negatively affect their quality of life. The prostate can be affected by a number of disorders, including prostatitis, benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH), and unfortunately, cancer.
Prostate problems are not unusual, as when men reach age 40 or so, it’s common for the prostate to slowly begin to enlarge. Statistics show that more than 50% of men in their 60’s and 90% of men in their 80’s may suffer from BPH, a non-cancerous prostate enlargement. As the prostate increases in size, it can compress the urethra, irritate bladder walls and interfere with normal urination. An enlarged prostate does not always cause symptoms, but many may initially notice a reduced urine flow or symptoms such as urgency or frequency of urination, especially during the night. Over time, more troublesome or embarrassing symptoms, including impotence or urine leaking, may develop and, for some, serious complications such as urinary retention can result. Depending on the severity of symptoms, treatments may include watchful waiting for mild symptoms, treatments such as drug therapies designed to improve urine flow, relax the muscles surrounding the prostate or shrink the prostate gland for moderate or more bothersome symptoms and, in more complicated cases, surgery.
Prostatitis is an inflammation of the prostate gland that often results in swelling, pain in the lower abdomen or back, urination problems, sexual dysfunction and overall fatigue. Prostatitis can be bacterial or nonbacterial, acute or chronic. By far the most common problem is nonbacterial prostatitis, as an enlarged prostate is a risk factor for developing inflammation. Treatments can include anti-inflammatory medications, muscle relaxants, dietary changes, supplements, warm baths, increased fluid intake, stool softeners and more frequent sexual activity. Caused by a bacterial infection, acute bacterial prostatitis may necessitate a 4 – 6 week course of antibiotics, while chronic prostatitis may require up to 12 weeks of antibiotics.
Neither prostatitis nor BPH increase the risk of prostate cancer. However, as early warning signs of cancer are similar to the symptoms of non-cancerous BPH, it is always a good idea to see a doctor when any symptoms occur. Aging, family history and genetics, as well as a poor diet are sighted as risk factors for developing prostate cancer. In many cases, prostate cancer develops in older men, is slow growing and may not necessarily reduce life expectancy. When cancer is aggressive, treatment may slow the progress. Depending on the stage of cancer at diagnosis, treatments may include active surveillance, surgery, radiotherapy, hormone therapy and, in some cases, chemotherapy.
While an enlarging prostate may be inevitable for many, it does not always require treatment, as symptoms are often mild. As always, the best defense is a good offense. Reducing or avoiding caffeine may help with frequency and urgency. Nicotine is known to irritate the bladder, so stopping smoking may significantly improve symptoms. Along with the support of loved ones and friends, maintaining a healthy weight, following a balanced, plant-based diet rich in colorful vegetables, and regular physical activity may help decrease disease progression and reduce anxiety for those living with prostate conditions. A healthy lifestyle and a good attitude go a long way in supporting the immune system and overall wellness.
The following products aid in supporting a healthy prostate and/or help to address symptoms of BPH:
Prostate Supreme by Designs for Health – Formulated to provide balanced and comprehensive support for prostate health, this product delivers targeted nutritional and antioxidant support for bladder function and for rejuvenation and maintenance of the prostate. Gluten, soy, dairy and yeast free, Non-GMO formulation.
Prost-Mate w/Maitake D Fraction® by Mushroom Wisdom – This unique formula is designed to promote healthy prostate function and a healthy immune system. The formula includes saw palmetto, lycopene, nettle root powder and antioxidant green tea, along with phytonutrients and Maitake TD-Fraction®. Dairy and yeast free, no artificial colors or preservatives.
Healthy Prostate Formula by Longevity Science – Designed to support prostate health, this formula includes saw palmetto berry extract standardized to 85-95% free fatty acids, active phytochemicals shown in scientific studies to be beneficial for prostate health.
Guna-Prostate by Guna Biotherapeutics – This homeopathic formula is designed to provide temporary relief of symptoms relating to benign prostate hypertrophy (BPH), including slowed or delayed start urination, urgency, incontinence and painful urination.
Nettles Max-V (77359) by Douglas Laboratories – This herbal formula provides 250 mg of standardized nettles extract per capsule. Urtioca dioica (nettles) is believed to play important roles in supporting a healthy prostate and may help relieve symptoms relating to BPH. Gluten, soy, dairy and yeast free.