The prostate is a gland that sits at the base of the male urethra. Its primary purpose is to alkalinize semen to protect sperm that is dedicated to fertilization in an otherwise acidic environment.
The prostate is most infamous for the problems it presents in aging males. The most common complaint in aging males is an inconvenience in urinary habits. The most likely cause for this is Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH). BPH is a normal enlargement of the the prostate caused by a shift in testosterone around the age of 50. This is male menopause, or andropause. Testosterone is converted to Dihydrotestosterone through the action of the enzyme 5-alpha reductase. There are pharmaceutical drugs as well as herbs that block this enzyme as the key strategy for reversing BPH. Zinc also plays a role in this process.
Other than normal andropause symptoms, some men suffer from prolonged infections in the prostate. This can be uncomfortable as well as lead to more serious conditions. Antibiotics are often the strategy of choice to penetrate into this somewhat hidden gland.
Prostate cells seem to be quite susceptible to cancer. There are various estimates about the incidence of cancer in the prostate. It has been been said that most men have some degree of cancerous activity by the time they reach fifty. Actual diagnosis of prostate cancer is more like one in seven. And even among these, the number of aggressive cases is very low. However, it is critically important to determine the aggressiveness in order to develop appropriate strategies for its containment.
There are many testing options to assess the health of the prostate. The more invasive the procedure, the more agitated the cells become which could lead to a more aggressive process. The first signs are usually picked up by the individual himself. Perhaps trouble starting and stopping urination. The next step is often a simple digital exam where the prostate is felt for either enlargement or irregular bumps. A uniform enlargement is usually BPH. Irregular bumps are more suspicious for cancerous activity. A urinalysis before and after a digital exam can be helpful in detecting an infection in the prostate.
Lab tests may provide further evaluation before more aggressive tests like biopsies are considered. The familiar PSA blood test is useful when comparing it with previous PSA numbers. More sophisticated tests can be combined with the standard PSA to get a clearer determination of the nature of the process going on.
As with other glands in the body there are several approaches to treatment. One can treat infections with antibiotics. One can treat enlargement with pharmaceutical drugs or herbs. One can treat cancer with hormones, herbs, ultra sound, radiation or surgery.
Prevention is always the simpler way to go. Maintaining a healthy body and a healthy attitude with regular exercise, consumption of unprocessed foods and positive thinking will promote a long and fulfilling life.