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Mens Health: Prostate Health: Prostate Problems - An Owners' Guide  Previous Next

Prostate Problems - An Owners' Guide

by: Claire Raikes, Health Coach

The prostate gland.

We've all heard of it, but generally only in relation to it going wrong - and the embarrassment of having your doctor stick his finger 'up yer bum' to check it. So what exactly is the prostate? What does it do and how can you keep yours in good shape? Before we get started, there are two small points that need clarifying:

1 There's only one 'R' in prostate. (Prostrate is when you lie face down with your arms and legs spread!).

2 The prostate is a strictly 'men-only' kinda gland. (Girls don't have one.)

 

Where is it and what does it do?

About the size of conker (chestnut), the prostate lives sort of wrapped around the urethra, just below the exit of the bladder, in front of the inner wall of the rectum. Picture a drinking straw with a balloon on the end. Now imagine threading a mini cupcake onto the straw and pushing it up as far as the balloon. The balloon is the bladder, the straw is the urethra and the mini cupcake is the prostate gland!

Despite its proximity to and associations with the bladder, it has absolutely nothing to do with urine production and is, in fact, responsible for producing something called prostatic fluid which increases the sperms' ability to 'swim'. So that explains why women don't have one then!

 

What can go wrong with it then?

Well, not a lot... in men under 50. However, according to Prostate Research Campaign UK, 43% of men over 65 will suffer with a variety of urinary symptoms due to something called 'benign prostatic hyperplasia' (BPH).

BPH is the most common of prostate problems and refers to a non-cancerous overgrowth of the cells of the prostate itself, usually on the inside (where the cupcake and the straw touch). Given its position, this enlarging of the prostate causes constriction of the urethra which reduces the flow of urine out of the body.

Typical signs that "y' cupcake is squashing y' straw", are:

  • a weak, slow or 'stop, start' flow of urine
  • straining to pee
  • feeling afterwards, that there's still some left, ie. you haven't emptied your bladder properly
  • inability to pee or difficulty getting started
  • frequent trips to the bathroom, day and/or night
  • when nature calls, it's urgent and/or you 'leak' a little

And besides the above symptoms, an enlarged prostate can impact on the bladder itself and ultimately, if left untreated, could lead to surgery and even kidney problems.

As well as BPH, there are two other potential prostate problems - 'prostatitis' (inflammation of the prostate) or 'prostate cancer', the most common cancer diagnosed in men.

Since all three conditions involve the prostate constricting the urethra, many of the symptoms of the less serious BPH also show up in prostatitis and prostate cancer. As a result, it's important you see your doctor at the earliest opportunity, in order to establish exactly what the problem is and receive the correct treatment.

Worth noting, is that if you are between 30 and 50 and develop the symptoms of a urinary infection eg. a burning pain while you pee or frequent and/or urgent need to pee, you should get yourself to your doc as soon as possible since these symptoms may be an indicator of prostatitis caused by an infection of some kind. (Note: the most common form of prostatitis is not caused by bacterial infection.)

Likewise, blood in your pee and/or semen along with any symptoms listed above may indicate prostate cancer. Needless to say, get to your doc immediately.

 

How can I reduce the risk of or prevent prostate problems?

Well, there's good news and bad news here:

The bad news is that the jury's still out on what causes prostate problems, with one exception; bacterial prostatitis can result from unprotected anal intercourse.

The good news is that there's reliable evidence to suggest that the risk of all three prostate conditions can be reduced by dietary changes.

And there's no surprises as to what they are; it's all the usual suspects...

  • Reduce your intake of saturated animal fats ie. eggs, milk, cheese, butter and red and processed meats.
  • Eat more wholegrains and nuts and seeds. In particular, choose, brazil nuts and pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds.
  • A diet rich in fruit and veg will ensure you're getting plenty of antioxidants and phytonutrients.
  • Introduce soya products to your diet (try switching your unhealthy pork and beef sausages for tofu sausages).
  • Drink plenty of still, plain water and nettle tea and reduce the amount of tea, coffee and alcohol.

 

Can diet really make a difference?

Well, here's an interesting tale. Make of it what you will...

My sprightly 68 yr old dad, has had prostate problems for the last few years. Recently, despite medication, it had been getting worse and was really making his life miserable. So, he stopped taking the medication, made another appointment to see his doc and began preparing himself for the fact that he may need surgery.

But, within days of stopping the medication, his symptoms had pretty much vanished. He excitedly rang me to tell me that he'd been to see the doctor again and he had confirmed that his prostate no longer seemed enlarged. What's more, Dad couldn't remember the last time he went to the loo ie. it was hours rather than minutes ago.

I asked what else he'd been doing differently that might have contributed to this seemingly miraculous outcome and he said, "Just little changes to my diet."

It turns out, that since my mum and dad witnessed my healing from UC, seeing me go from very poorly indeed to vital health in a matter of months, they've started paying serious attention to what they eat. They've always been pretty good mind you, eating plenty of fresh vegetables, many of them home grown and next to no processed food. But now they have reduced their intake of red meat to once or twice a month max and have swapped white rice for brown, that kind of thing. They've cut right down on cups of tea too, drinking more water instead and cheese is now a treat food rather than a staple or a snack food.

He's awaiting test results now which will tell us more about what's going on, but I'm just happy that he's found relief and if he and my mum keep eating like they are, I may have another 20 years with them. That would be so cool.

For more information visit the Prostate Research Campaign UK's website at www.Prostate-Research.org.uk or the American Prostate Cancer Research Institute at www.prostate-cancer.org.

But for goodness sake, if you think you may have a problem - get checked out by a medical professional!

Claire Raikes is a Health and Wellbeing Coach who 'cured' herself of a chronic, disabling and potentially life-threatening bowel condition without the use of steroids, surgery or any other traditional medical intervention. She shares her passion for natural health, diet, nutrition and weight control through her speaking, writing and coaching. See how much healthier you could be; get your complimentary Wellbeing Checklist by visiting: LiveInEssence.com

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