The prostate is a walnut-sized gland located just under the bladder in men. The urethra passes right through the prostate gland, carrying urine and semen through to the penis. However, the normal function of the prostate has little to do with urine other than housing the urethra, and is mainly concerned with the production of prostatic fluid which combines with sperm and other fluids to make semen. The prostate is also a muscle that contracts during ejaculation, helping move semen through the urethra.
While its main role is for male fertility, symptoms of prostate dysfunction are usually urinary simply because enlargement or inflammation of the gland will compress and compromise the urethra. The prostate can become enlarged in three groups of conditions, and naturopathic medicine can be helpful for each of them. This three part blog post series will discuss each of these conditions.
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)
As men age, they convert a higher percentage of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT stimulates the cells of the prostate to grow much more strongly than testosterone does. This makes BPH extremely common with aging, and by age 70 most men have some degree of this condition. It is also common for men in their 50’s and 60’s. The symptoms include urinary frequency and urgency, with many men waking up to pee at night, as well as urinary hesitancy (difficulty initiating urination) and incomplete voiding which then contributes to the urinary frequency. Besides age, many factors contribute to BPH by way of DHT, including nutrition, activity level, environmental toxins, weight and genetics. BPH is monitored by blood testing for levels of Prostate Specific Antigen, or PSA, and a physical examination of the prostate is sometimes performed.
While most medications used to treat BPH have significant side effects, natural medicines including herbal extracts can have potent results, decreasing BPH symptoms noticeably without significant side effects. However, the world of natural remedies can have an overwhelming amount of information and misinformation as well as low quality products at the wrong dosages or making inappropriate claims. Our naturopaths help avoid wasting time and money on the wrong products, ensure that the most effective natural treatments are utilized, and go beyond a simple magic pill approach by addressing the root causes of BPH, optimizing nutrition and lifestyle.