Your prostate is a walnut-sized, muscular gland located below your bladder, and is responsible for secreting prostate fluid which helps the flow of seminal fluid. As part of the male reproductive system, your prostate gland grows significantly during your teenage years, nearly doubling in size, and will continue to grow for the remainder of your life. In some cases, the prostate may become larger than average, a condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). An enlarged prostate gland can put pressure on your urinary tract and impair the flow of urine from your bladder. Other common signs of an enlarged prostate include:
- Increased frequency and urge to urinate
- Changes in your urine flow, including difficulty starting, a weak stream, a stream that stops and starts, or dribbling
- Difficulty emptying your bladder completely
You may also develop urinary tract infections or notice blood in your urine. The severity of symptoms vary from person to person and don’t necessarily depend on the size of your prostate. Some men experience significant symptoms with only a slightly enlarged prostate, while others with a more enlarged prostate may have mild symptoms.
BPH becomes more common as you age; affecting nearly 50 percent of men by the time they reach their 60’s. Other risk factors include family history, obesity and chronic health conditions like diabetes and heart disease.
While BPH and other prostate conditions often don’t affect men until later in life, there are steps you can take now to maintain your prostate health.
- Eat a well-balanced diet, low in fat with four or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day
- Exercise regularly to maintain a healthy weight and avoid gaining “belly fat”
- Drink plenty of fluids to keep your prostate and urinary system functioning properly
- Reduce your stress to keep your immune system strong
- Don’t smoking
- Limit alcohol and caffeine consumption
- Get enough rest
Certain vitamins and minerals have also been linked to better prostate health including, vitamin C, lycopene and zinc. Boost your intake with the following foods:
Leading a healthy lifestyle can decrease your chances of developing BPH and lower your risk for other male-specific health conditions like erectile dysfunction (ED) or prostate cancer.
If you develop BPH, there are many treatment options available to manage your symptoms. Medications are often prescribed to help relax your prostate and bladder muscles, improving your urine flow, and others target the hormones causing the prostate to grow. Minimally invasive surgical options are also available. If you are experiencing urinary problems that may be due to an enlarged prostate, a urologist can help you to select a treatment plan that is right for you.
To make an appointment with one of our urologists, call 630−790−1221 or schedule online.