Prostate Health 101
What is the prostate?
Only men have a prostate, but many have no idea what the prostate does. So, what is it exactly? The prostate is a small muscular gland between the size of a walnut or golf ball that is located between the base of the penis and the rectum. It surrounds the urethra, which is the tube that carries urine and semen out of the body. A part of the male reproductive system, it produces prostate fluid that makes up part of semen.
What is the importance of the prostate?
The main function of the prostate is the production of seminal fluid, which mixes with the sperm from the testes. Seminal fluid nourishes and protects the sperm and allows it to travel and survive. Basically, it allows the sperm to reach the female egg, which makes the prostate essential for male fertility.
What are some common health concerns that affect the prostate?
- Prostate cancer
We can’t talk about the prostate without talking about prostate cancer. According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer in America. In the United States, 1 out of every 9 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. If detected early, prostate cancer has a 98% survival rate. Men over the age of 50 should talk to their doctor about prostate screenings and PSA tests, which are routine blood tests that determine the measurement of Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) concentration in the blood.
- Prostate gland enlargement
As men age, their prostate naturally becomes larger, which scientists believe is due to hormonal changes as a man gets older. However, prostate gland enlargement, also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), can lead to urinary problems like a frequent and urgent need to urinate and difficulty starting urination. More serious symptoms include bladder, urinary tract or kidney problems. Men experiencing urinary problems should talk to your doctor.
The least known of the three, prostatitis is the inflammation or swelling of the prostate gland. Unlike prostate cancer and an enlarged prostate, prostatitis can affect men of all ages and is believed to affect 1 in 6 men at some point in their life. There are two main types of prostatitis: chronic and acute. Prostatitis is the most common and usually comes and goes over several months. Acute prostatitis happens suddenly, and its symptoms are much more severe. Symptoms of both include difficulty or pain during urinating, pelvic pain or painful ejaculation. If you are experiencing any of these, see your doctor.
What can I do for prostate health?
The two most important factors when it comes to prostate health is a well-balanced diet and exercise. A healthy diet consisting of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats like olive oil is key, as is cutting down on high-processed foods, red meat, sugary drinks, and salty foods. Drinking green or hibiscus tea also have their benefits, so instead of your regular cup of coffee, switch it up for a non-caffeinated alternative. In addition to tea, drink lots of water throughout the day.
A study published in the Journal of Urology found that overweight men, especially men with a high amount of abdominal fat, have an increased risk of BPH. Regular exercise, whether it’s running on a treadmill, playing tennis or going for a swim, is not only good for your prostate health.So, get moving toward better prostate health and a better you!