It is advisable for all men to have regular prostate check ups once they are over 40 and to do all they can to maintain a healthy prostate. This is even more true for men with a history of prostate cancer in their family as 40%s are linked in this way and the risk doubles if a brother is, or has been, diagnosed.
The prostate is a small gland in the male reproductive system and its main function is to produce seminal fluid for semen. The first symptom men notice is when the prostate begins to enlarge and there is usually an inability to pass urine. This occurs when the growth presses on the urethra, the tube that carries urine, and blocks the flow. The doctor will usually carry out a test for prostate specific antigen (PSA), a substance present in the blood that is used to identify men at increased risk of prostate cancer.
Many men over the age of 45 experience some amount of prostate enlargement, but may live symptom free though with some resulting in urinary difficulties. If left untreated it can result in urinary tract infections, bladder or kidney damage, bladder stones, incontinence and cancer.
Simple Tips to Keep The Prostate Healthy
Regular annual checks are a must and adopting a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise and a diet high in fruit and vegetables and low in unsaturated fats, sugars and processed foods is a sensible strategy. Avoiding chemical exposure where possible by eating an organic diet will also help as research has flagged up a warning on pesticides and growth promoters in agriculture from as early as 2007. Although these tests were on animals the first series indicated “alterations in the structure of the testis and epididymal (a part of the male reproductive system) region as well as in the serum levels of testosterone and estradiol, with changes in the expression of androgen receptors restricted to the testis.” Current French research has found that, even at very low levels, exposure to the Monsanto’s herbicide formula Roundup was responsible for causing severe endocrine disruption that reduced testosterone levels by 35 percent.
A simple and effective tip to maintain prostate health is to perform Kegel exercises to improve circulation and this is done by pulling up all the muscles around the scrotum and anus. Repeat this movement 10 times and at least 5-6 times daily – no one will know you are doing it!
Herbal help has been used for centuries for men suffering from prostate enlargement and there are many combinations but the most popular include saw palmetto to relieve testicular inflammation and inhibit oestrogen, the hormone responsible for prostate enlargement
The herbs nettle, pygeum and hydrangea have also been show to be effective for relieving symptoms associated with an enlarged prostate. Damiana has a long history of helping balance the body’s hormones, nettle is a natural diuretic and hydrangea supports the urinary system, where it is know to promote the overall health of the prostate gland and help to reduce inflammation and swelling. Antioxidants are also helpful, particularly the A.C.E combination of vitamins A,C, E with selenium as they help to protect these sensitive tissues from oxidative damage.
The Role Of Progesterone
An essential hormone for both men and women, its levels remain constant in men until they are over 60. Men produce it in their adrenals and testes and it is the precursor of adrenocortical hormones and testosterone. As they age, men’s progesterone and testosterone levels drop and oestrogen levels rise – and they too can become oestrogen dominant – see Dr Shirley Bond’s article here. Men normally produce 5-15 mgs of progesterone a day and this is secreted on a regular basis, unlike in women where it is cyclical and related to the menstrual cycle.
Men as they get older have a tendency to produce less testosterone and more di-hydrotestosterone, which seems to have an over stimulating effect on cells. Progesterone could have the effect of neutralizing the di-hydrotestosterone, which would thus help to maintain testosterone levels. It is also thought that progesterone may have an effect on the genetic coding of some cells, and in this prevents the development of abnormal cells.
The drop that occurs in progesterone levels in men is important, as we know it has a protective effect against the stimulating effects of oestrogen and testosterone. It does this by first acting directly on the progesterone receptors that are present in almost every tissue of the body and secondly by competing for receptors with testosterone. Go here to read more about the link between prostate cancer and oestrogen.
Although very little research has been done into the effects and role of progesterone in men, it is clear that a whole range of health problems can be addressed using this hormone and specifically in helping to maintain a healthy prostate. Research is lacking in this area, but there are interesting anecdotal reports of reports from patients with prostate cancer which has been diagnosed both by blood test and biopsy. These patients have found that, as a result of using natural progesterone for about a year, the levels of PSA (Prostatic Specific Antigen) in their blood have decreased to normal levels.
Keeping a healthy prostate requires an all-round approach in which diet, exercise, lifestyle and good hormone balance all have a role to play.