Every man has one, yet few men know anything about their prostate or what can go wrong with it. The prostate, found only in men, is located just beneath the bladder and in front of the rectum. It encircles, like a donut, a section of the urethra. It is a small gland that secretes much of the liquid portion of semen and is crucial to a man’s sex life.
The prostate often enlarges as men get older, but for two-thirds of men aged 50 or over this doesn’t cause any problems. However, men over the age of 50 should begin to pay attention to their prostate health, as that is when most prostate issues begin to surface.
One of the most common prostate issues men face is an enlarged prostate gland. This can press on the tube carrying urine from the bladder and cause urinary problems. This is known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). BPH affects 40% of men in their 50s and 90% of men in their 80s.
Other prostate conditions include inflammation of the prostate, also known as prostatitis, which is usually caused by an infection and treated with antibiotics. Sometimes a single cell in the prostate starts to multiply out of control and cancer can develop. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer found in men. Many men over 70 have prostate cancer, even though most of them will never have it diagnosed or have any symptoms.
Symptoms of prostate problems include:
- A weak or slow urinating stream
- A feeling of incomplete bladder emptying
- Difficulty starting to urinate
- Needing to urinate often, especially at night
- Straining to urinate or taking a long time to finish
- Continued dribbling of urine
- A urinary stream that starts and stops
- Urgency to urinate
- Pain when urinating or during sex
Other less common symptoms include pain in the lower back and blood in the urine.
There are several natural prostate herbs and nutrients that can help with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
Saw Palmetto is a small palm tree that grows in coastal areas of the American southeast, parts of Africa, and southern Europe. Studies indicate that an oily compound in saw palmetto berries relieves the discomforts of a mild to moderately enlarged prostate. Although the herb doesn’t actually reduce the actual size of the prostate, it does appear to prevent it from getting any larger. Products available include Blackmores Proseren Saw Palmetto and Nature’s Own Prostate Health.
Nettle Root may relieve some of the early symptoms of BPH, including night time urination and residual urine. It is believed that nettle root contains properties that inhibit the action of sex hormones, which are thought to stimulate the growth of prostate tissue, but more research is needed. This is included in prostate health formulations such as Ethical Nutrients Prostate Health.
Lycopene, a member of the carotenoid family, is the pigment that gives tomatoes their brilliant red colour. Lycopene is a potent antioxidant that appears to possess anti-cancer effects. It is believed that lycopene may aid in the prevention of prostate cancer as well as some other cancers. This is included in prostate health formulations such as Blackmores Prostate Health Formula and Prostate Eze Max.
Zinc has been shown to help shrink an enlarged prostate. In addition, zinc is instrumental in making sex and thyroid hormones and it is also important for proper immune system function. This is included in prostate health formulations such as Blooms Prostate Shield and Swisse Ultiboost Prostate.
Remember, although prostate health supplements can be very healthful – always speak to a physician before taking any dietary supplements.