Have you ever noticed that the prostate gland doesn’t get a lot of attention? I mean, there never seems to be a great time to bring up prostate health; it’s not great dinner conversation or a topic when you are playing golf with your buddies. For something so small, it sure can cause a big amount of problems. The good news…you don’t have to do the talking, I’ll take one for the team today.
The prostate gland is a group of cells about the size of a walnut, that secretes fluid vital for reproduction.1The prostate gland sits under the bladder and in front of the rectum, meaning it can negatively impact the bladder when problems arise.2The majority of men will run across prostate issues during their lifetime, so it is important to know what to look out for.
The most common of all prostate issues is benign prostatic hyperplasia, also called BPH. This condition will touch almost three-quarters of men over the age of 60 and up to 90% of men over the age of 80.1,3 Thankfully, BPH is non-cancerous, but it does makes urinating difficult or uncomfortable. Symptoms of BPH include an increased need to urinate, a weak or interrupted urine stream, pain during urination, pain during ejaculation, or frequent urination during sleep.1Treatment involves lifestyle changes, supportive care, or surgery.
Another common prostate issue is prostatitis, an infection or inflammation of the prostate gland. Similarly to BPH, prostatitiscan cause painful urination, urgency to urinate, or painful ejaculation.3Unlike BPH, there are four different types of prostatitis: chronic, acute bacterial, chronic bacterial, and asymptomatic inflammatory. If the prostate becomes infected, other symptoms may develop such as fever, chills, vomiting, and pain in the lower abdomen or genital area.4Prostatitis must be treated with antibiotics or pain management therapy.
Lastly, prostate cancer is a common occurrence with 1 in 7 men developing it their lifetime.3The most common form of prostate cancer is called adenocarcinoma.5While some prostate cancers can grow quickly, it is uncommon for most. In fact, autopsies of individuals who died of another cause showed prostate cancer without ever knowing it. Although there is a very successful treatment rate, all cancer should be taken seriously. Symptoms of include difficulty urinating, blood in the urine or semen, erectile dysfunction, pain in the hips, back, or chest, and weakness in the legs or feet.6
Although it isn’t clear exactly how you can prevent prostate complications, making healthy life choices can benefit your prostate health. The good news is that the prostate is a hardy and responsive gland. According to Harvard Health, “…men who were more physically active were less likely to suffer from BPH. Even low- to moderate-intensity physical activity, such as walking regularly at a moderate pace, yielded benefits.”7Aim for 30 minutes of physical activity 5 days per week. This should include cardiovascular exercise as well as resistance training. In addition, some research shows that exercise may prevent erectile dysfunction. You can also improve your health by eating a balanced, whole-foods diet. Focus on eating at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Stick with whole grains instead of refined grains, and avoid sweeteners when possible. Lastly, never skip your annual checkup. Discussing your prostate health with your doctor is one of the best ways to carefully watch your prostate health and take action when needed.
- Prostate Enlargement (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia). National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/prostate-problems/prostate-enlargement-benign-prostatic-hyperplasia. Published September 2014. Accessed June 13, 2018.
- How does the prostate work? PubMed Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0072475/. Updated August 23, 2016. Accessed June 13, 2018.
- Prostate Health & Disease. Harvard Health Publishing. https://www.health.harvard.edu/topics/prostate-health-and-disease. Accessed June 13, 2018.
- Prostatitis: Inflammation of the Prostate. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/prostate-problems/prostatitis-inflammation-prostate. Published July 2014. Accessed June 13, 2018.
- What Is Prostate Cancer? American Cancer Society.https://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostate-cancer/about/what-is-prostate-cancer.html. Accessed June 13, 2018.
- Signs and Symptoms of Prostate Cancer. American Cancer Society. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostate-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/signs-symptoms.html. Accessed June 13, 2018.
- 10 diet & exercise tips for prostate health. Harvard Health Publishing. https://www.health.harvard.edu/mens-health/10-diet-and-exercise-tips-for-prostate-health. Accessed June 13, 2018.