What is prostate enlargement?
The prostate gland sits just below a man's bladder, surrounding the urethra. Your prostate's function is to produce and secrete seminal fluid, which aids in the nutrition and transport of sperm. A large percentage of men over 50 years of age have prostate enlargement, also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
BPH is not related to cancer, but it can have uncomfortable symptoms since an expanded prostate presses on the urethra. The cause of BPH is said to be hormonal imbalance, due to a gradual decline in testosterone levels and an increase in dihydrotestosterone.
Symptoms of prostate enlargement include:
- blood in your urine
- difficulty starting or stopping the flow of urine
- needing to urinate frequently
- urinary tract infections
- inability to empty your bladder completely
- nocturia (needing to urinate at night)
- dysuria (painful urination)
- difficulty ejaculating
Because the cause of BPH is believed to be hormonal, hormonal replacement therapy is common. However, there are some unwanted side effects that accompany the drugs used such as an increased risk for prostate cancer. Other methods of treating BPH include alpha blockers, which relax the neck of your bladder, but also have serious side effects such as lowering blood pressure. 5-alpha reductase inhibitors may be prescribed, although side effects include decreased libido and impotence. Transurethral microwave therapy (TUMT) and surgery are also conventional alternatives.
It is a good idea to ask your doctor for a PSA (prostate specific antigen) test (note that in Ontario there is a fee associated with this test). High PSA levels may indicate an enlarged prostate, prostate cancer, or prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate gland). An ultrasound test may also be suggested as a follow up.
How can natural medicine help with prostate enlargement?
Regarding natural health care and BPH, it is recommended that you drink less fluids before bedtime, and urinate on a prescribed schedule. Ingesting fish oils (which contain fatty acids) can help reduce inflammation, while other diet modifications may help in different ways. Acupuncture and TCM are also useful - the acupuncture can help balance hormonal levels and reduce many of the symptoms, while saw palmetto and other herbs can help urinary flow rates and other complaints around BPH. Exercise such as yoga can assist in lowering symptoms, while massage therapy can help you reduce stress.
Contact us for a FREE consultation on how natural therapy can help you treat prostate enlargement.
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