Dr. Bowen discusses Mens health, including Prostate conditions and treatments.Whether you are a man or are a friend or family member of one, you are probably very aware of the fact that men’s health and wellness in an under-addressed topic. Many men are shy about discussing very common issues like urinary problems or erectile dysfunction. These are very treatable but can not be addressed unless they are discussed with your doctor. This month’s newsletter is an overview what the prostate gland is, what happens when it becomes enlarged and what we can do to treat it.
What is the Prostate Gland
The healthy prostate is a walnut sized gland that is situated just underneath the urinary bladder and in front of the rectum. It is only present in males and plays a role in the male reproductive system. The prostate surrounds the urethra (passageway for urine). It functions in secreting fluid into semen and it has a small amount of smooth muscle that helps expel semen during ejaculation. The fluid that is released from the prostate contains simple sugars, a very small amount of protein, zinc and enzymes. The prostate is regulated by testosterone which is created in the testicles.
What is BPH?
BPH is short for Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy. This means enlargement of the prostate gland that is not due to cancer or other dangerous causes. It is not known why this happens but it may be due to the decreasing levels of testosterone and increasing levels of estrogen as men age. BPH is very common in older men and it is estimated that by age 85 nearly 90% of men experience some degree of prostate enlargement.
What are the signs and symptoms of BPH?
Since the prostate surrounds the urethra and is located under the bladder, when it becomes enlarged it puts pressure on the bladder and urethra causing frequent urination, especially at night, urgency to urinate, leaking, dribbling, hesitant or weak stream. BPH also increases your risk of getting a urinary tract infection. BPH can also cause impotence and difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection.
Screening for Prostate Health
- Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA): this is a blood test that can show the degree of inflammation in the prostate gland. It is good to have a test done even if you don’t have symptoms to establish what a normal level is for you.
- Digital Rectal Examination (DRE): this is the dreaded but important right of passage for all men over 40. By inserting a finger in the rectum, your doctor is able to feel the degree of inflammation/enlargement in the prostate gland. This should be done yearly.
- Online questionnaire from the American Urology Association can be filled out to determine severity of symptoms related to BPH. Please share the results with a healthcare professional.
Helping manage symptoms of BPH
- To help decrease night-time urination: don’t drink water right before bed and limit intake of coffee, green tea and other diuretics.
- Eat less red meat and drink less alcohol. Eat more pumpkin seeds (2 handfuls/day) to help reduce gland enlargement.
- Exercise and a diet rich in organic fruit and vegetables may help to prevent prostate gland enlargement.
Supplements/Products for Prostate Health
- Prostaco (Standard Process): this product combines saw palmetto, nettle root and pumpkin seed oil to help reduce prostate gland enlargement.
- 5-LX (New Chapter): this is also a combination formula for helping to nourish the prostate gland and prevent or treat gland enlargement.
- Zinc Picolinate: reduces the size of the prostate gland. Helps to balance hormones.
- Flaxseed Oil: essential fatty acids, like flaxseed oil, help to decrease inflammation. EFA deficiency may be a contributing factor in the development of BPH.
The Clinician’s Handbook of Natural Medicine, Michael Murray, ND and Joseph Pizzorno, ND., Herb Joiner-Bey, ND, pp. 423-428. Churchill Livingstone. 2002.
Naturopathic Urology and Men’s Health. Eric Yarnell, N.D. RH. Pp. 228-238. Wenatchee, WA: Healing Mountain Publishing. 2001.