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Prostate Problem

Aren't I too young for Prostate Problems?

Question

I always thought prostate problems were an issue for older men, but I'm 46 and have been told by my doctor that I have a slightly enlarged prostate. When urinating it feels as though I cannot empty my bladder properly, and the flow has also decreased. Can you suggest anything to help? The doctor did a blood test and confirmed that the prostate was not cancerous.

Answer

The prostate gland is a muscular, rounded organ about the size of a large walnut it surrounds the urethra just as it comes out of the bladder on its way to the penis. At birth, it weights just a few grams but at puberty, under the influence of androgens (male hormones), it grows to its adult size, weighing about 20 grams at age 20. After that it stops growing until the age of 45 or so, when a second growth spurt begins for the majority of men; about nine in ten men aged 80 or over have enlarged prostates.

The prostate gland produces prostatic fluid, a slightly acid solution drat makes up 20 to 30 per cent of the volume of semen. One of the main components is seminal plasmin, a natural antibiotic that not only prevents urinary infections in men but also kills germs in the vagina to help ensure the survival of sperm.

The main symptom of prostatic enlargement is urinary retention. As the gland surrounds the urethra, any increase in size causes narrowing of the duct carrying urine. Sometimes this compression is compensated for by thickening of the bladder muscles, which increase pressure of urine flow. So the man may not feel discomfort. However, as the gland grows, the symptoms become more noticeable. The bladder muscles cannot contract fully to empty all of the urine. This leads to dribbling of urine after voiding, delay in voiding because the bladder pressure has to, build up again before it can push out the urine, and a sensation of incomplete emptying. As urine production is constant if the bladder is full and can't empty, urine flows back up the ureter to the kidneys and, in severe cases, these may be damaged. Additionally, there may be an increased need to urinate at night urgency to get both day and night, frequent urinary infections, incontinence and constipation (an enlarged prostate can block the bowels).

This condition is benign and by no means to be confused with prostate cancer. However prostate cancer may show up within the mass of an enlarged prostate. (For more information on prostate cancer, call the Prostate Cancer Charity's confidential helpline on 0845 300 8383; or visit www.prostate-cancer.org.uk ).Prostatic surgery is the most convenient and effective way of dealing with an enlarged prostate. Your doctor will be able to explain the various options in detail.

However, when the enlargement is small and the discomfort has only just started, as in your case, you could try the following treatment plan, which may help to control the symptoms. Herbal remedies, such as saw palmetto have had some limted success in controlling this condition.

    Diet

  • Eat celery, yam, green coriander and drink fennel tea.
  • Avoid citrus fruit and sour foods as they increase the risk of urinary tract infections; also yeast products (bread, biscuits, cakes, pasta, pizza, beer) and processed foods with additives, as they weaken the immune system.
  • Avoid all alcohol, which causes irritation of the prostate; also avoid caffeine and excess salt.
  • Drink two litres of still water daily, in between meals, until 8pm, then nothing until the next morning.
  • Supplements

  • Fenugreek seeds: soak one teaspoonful in a glass of water overnight then drink first thing in the morning to assist the normal functioning of the prostate. Available at grocers or health food stores.
  • Aloe vera : one twice daily for three months.
  • Bangshil : one twice daily for three months to prevent infection.
  • Prostate Formula : one twice daily for three months.
  • Himplasia : two twice daily for three months.
  • Exercises

  • 1 Stand erect with feet hip-distance apart. Breathe in deeply, pushing the diaphragm down and directing . the force to the pelvic floor as if to defecate; hold your breath for a count of three. Breathe out slowly, sucking in the abdomen and the pelvic floor and pushing up the diaphragm. (You may need to practise this.) Repeat the cycle ten times in the morning and evening for three months.
  • 2 Contract the anal sphincter and pull the pelvic floor up towards your navel. Repeat ten times in the morning and evening for three months.
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