A healthy prostate gland is crucial when comes to reproduction, urination, and health. Unfortunately, many men struggle with prostate issues as they get older, the biggest being an enlarged prostate gland. Let’s look at how this affects quality of life, what causes issues with the prostate, and how you can start addressing them right now.
What is the Prostate?
The prostate is a part of the male reproductive system that secretes a fluid that makes up semen. The muscles within the prostate gland also help the body propel the fluid during ejaculation. This walnut-sized gland is found right beneath the bladder and in between the rectum and penis. The prostate also wraps around an area of the urethra, where urine passes through. A common issue for men as they get older is enlargement of the prostate, also known as a benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
Symptoms of an Enlarged Prostate
A diagnosis of BPH (enlarged prostate) means that the gland is growing too big, enough to start causing problems in daily function. One of the most common symptoms is urination issues. Since the prostate is around part of the urethra, it can grow large enough to affect urine flow and also push against the bladder. This leads to two issues:
- Always feeling like you have to pee
- Not being able to fully release urine
Since there’s often only a small amount of urine in the bladder but your body thinks there’s more, the muscles of the bladder contract more than they should, putting unnecessary pressure on them. This can weaken the bladder over time, leading to issues with its ability to empty properly. Other related symptoms include:
- Feeling the need to urinate frequently, especially at night
- The need to urinate coming on urgently and immediately
- Trouble actually beginning or continuing urination
- Dribbling or weak stream
- Leaking or dripping after urination
- Feeling like your bladder never completely empties
- Burning feeling or pain when urinating
- Blood in the urine (in some cases)
Having an enlarged prostate is incredibly common. One in five men between ages 50 and 60 experience an enlarged prostate. In men older than that, it’s even more common. Thankfully, having an enlarged prostate does not necessarily mean you’ll get prostate cancer. However, it does lead to uncomfortable and embarrassing side effects that lead most men to seek solutions.
Common Reasons for an Enlarged Prostate
A growing prostate is not abnormal during youth. In fact, during puberty a boy’s prostate continues to grow until it’s about the size of a walnut. It can then continue to grow in adulthood. The amount of growth from here varies per man, but too much growth can lead to the problems mentioned above. The major cause of an abnormally large prostate has to do with male sex hormones, including androgens like testosterone. The prostate uses testosterone by turning it into dihydrotestosterone, also known as DHT, which may spur too much tissue cell growth in the lining of the prostate. Another contributing factor may be the increase in estrogen hormone that goes up as men age. This combined with a drop in testosterone can lead to more growth of the prostate.
What are the Risk Factors?
You might be wondering at this point what causes this to happen. The short answer is that we don’t know for sure, but here are the main risk factors for an enlarged prostate: Age. An enlarged prostate isn’t typically seen until middle age, around age 40, although it can happen sooner. By age 50 and beyond, the chances are even higher. Here are the average rates of enlarged prostate prevalence by age:
- 10% chance for men in their 30s
- 20% chance for men in their 40s
- 50-60% for men in their 60s
- 80-90% for men in their 70s and 80s
Family history. Those with family members who also had an enlarged prostate, especially if they were diagnosed young, can be more at risk of developing signs or symptoms of BPH. Lifestyle. Having a sedentary lifestyle and poor diet can also contribute to issues with the prostate. Basically, the research mostly shows that the longer men live, the higher their chances of developing an enlarged prostate. That’s why it’s important to know the risk factors and your options for addressing prostate issues.
Treatments for Enlarged Prostate — Conventional vs Natural
Unless the symptoms of an enlarged prostate are unbearably painful or dangerous, the most common approach is usually to watch and wait. That’s because many of the common medical treatments, including radiation or surgery, can have serious long-term side effects like incontinence or impotence.
Besides watching and waiting, medications are the second most common conventional approach to enlarged prostate. Those include:
- 5-alpha reductase inhibitors, which may help reduce prostate size but can take several weeks at the least to reduce any symptoms. These include finasteride and dutasteride.
- Alpha blockers, which may help relieve some symptoms of BPH. However, they don’t stop growing of the prostate. These include alfuzosin, terazosin, silodosin, and doxazosin.
Sometimes, doctors will prescribe a combination of these drugs for treatment.
Men with enlarged prostates should be careful to avoid any medications that interact with those above, such as drugs used for treatment of impotence or diuretics, as they can make symptoms worse. The same goes for antihistamines and decongestants for colds or allergies. Talk with your doctor before taking them.
Another treatment method includes transurethral microwave thermotherapy, or TUMT, where microwaves are used to destroy prostate tissue. This method can help improve urination ease and frequency, but it is not able to cure BPH.
Surgery is usually only used if symptoms have become so severe and uncomfortable that the patient is desperate for relief. The most common surgery performed is transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP), which uses a laser light or electric current to remove prostate tissue. Studies have shown that low-risk men who wait and watch their symptoms tend to be far better off over the years than those who turn to extreme medical measures to fix their symptoms.
Treating the Prostate Naturally
Thankfully, for those who don’t trust or would like an alternative to conventional treatments, natural remedies exist for addressing prostate concerns: Making changes to diet and lifestyle. In a world full of excess, there’s a strong possibility that years of poor diet or lifestyle choices could contribute to prostate concerns. Thankfully, making changes like the following now can still have a positive impact:
- Reducing or quitting caffeine and alcohol
- Getting regular exercise, such as biking, swimming, power walking or jogging, at least 30 minutes each day
- Eating five or more servings of vegetables each day
- Eating a whole foods diet to maintain/reach a healthy weight
- Eating more omega-3s and other healthy fats
- Eating foods with vitamin C, such as broccoli, cauliflower, citrus fruits, Brussels sprouts, kale, and tomatoes
It might also be helpful to reduce the intake of fluids in the evening to prevent such frequent urination during the night Kegel exercises. These exercises involve contracting and releasing the pelvic muscles while urinating. Practice stopping the stream of urination for 20 seconds each time you urine. Kegels may help strengthen the pelvic muscles that affect urination problems when the prostate is enlarged. Try doing the exercise 3-5 times each day. Another helpful practice is making yourself try to urinate regularly — about every three hours. Natural supplements. The following herbal supplements have been shown to help those with an enlarged prostate:
- Saw Palmetto: This herb is very popular as a safe treatment to help improve overactive bladder and urinary dysfunction for those with enlarged prostate.
- CCL Advanced Prostate Supplement: contains a special blend of healthy, natural herbs and other ingredients to promote better prostate function with stronger flow, better emptying of the bladder, and less time between urination. It has been shown to work in less than 12 days and even better than saw palmetto. It also contains epilobium, which is known around the world for prostate treatment. Try it yourself here.
- Zinc: Taking between 50-100 mg of zinc per day may be helpful for shrinking the prostate gland naturally.
- Pumpkin Seed Oil: may help improve maximum urine flow and also reduce symptoms associated with an enlarged prostate.
- Stinging Nettle Root: This root of the stinging nettle plant has been used for many conditions, including prostate concerns. Research has shown it may help stop tissue activity of the prostate to prevent too much cell growth.
- Pygeum: Taken from the bark of the pygeum tree, this supplement is commonly used for treatment of an enlarged prostate, urinary issues, and prostate cancer because it contains chemicals that can help shrink the prostate.
For most men with prostate concerns, it seems the best bet is to focus on prevention and to seek remedies with the least amount of side effects. Make sure you’re eating well, getting regular exercise, watching for any changes, and using a tested herbal blend to naturally address an enlarged prostate and urinary concerns.
DISCLAIMER! This content and research is provided for educational purposes only, and is NOT intended to replaced sound medical advice. If you fear you may have a prostate problem, make sure and see your doctor so he can test for cancer. Early detection is critical. The age range medical screening advice for prostate cancer screening can be found here: http://www.auanet.org/guidelines/early-detection-of-prostate-cancer-(2013-reviewed-and-validity-confirmed-2015)
- Epilobium is an important active ingredient in CCL’s Advanced Prostate, and is also used in 12 Day Epilobium. A clinical test was conducted on a sample of elderly men with severe quality of life issues due to enlarged prostate. The 4 month trial found that on average these men achieved a 29% improvement in their “quality of life score,” a statistically significant improvement, on a very difficult demographic. See the clinical study here: Epilobium Study for BPH on Geriatric Patients PDF