Prostate health is something that many men don’t think about until they are faced with a problem. It turns out, however, that prostate problems affect one in seven men in Singapore each year. The good news is that there are solutions to these issues.
In this article, we will talk about what causes prostate problems and who is at risk for developing them, as well as how to prevent and treat the different types of prostate-related health concerns.
1. The prostate is located in a place that may surprise you
The prostate gland rests under the bladder, just in front of the rectum, and surrounds part of the urethra.
The prostate is a small gland that sits below the bladder and produces some fluid that’s released when ejaculation happens. It can also become swollen, giving men symptoms like difficulty urinating or pain during sex.
Imagine it as a walnut-sized organ located between your pubic bone and your coccyx (tailbone towards your anus), just below your bladder (typical).
2. The prostate gland produces fluids that help keep sperm healthy and protect against infection
The prostate is important for men because it’s the male equivalent of the cervix in a woman. Or, you could think of it as “the male vagina” because its function is to both store and release semen when sexual activity occurs.
It can also be very much involved in cases of prostatitis or inflammation which can come about due to underlying causes such as bacteria or cancer.
3. Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer in men
Men with prostate problems are twice as likely to die from that problem than any other type of male ailment, including heart disease or diabetes.
Without treatment, about 23% will die within ten years – which means it’s important for a man who has been diagnosed with prostate cancer to learn what treatments there might be available before making decisions on his own.
4. Unlike most other cancers, there’s no single known cause for prostate cancer
The cause for prostate cancer is still inconclusive; it could be genetic, environmental, or both.
Researchers have found that men who live in a home with an extended family member who has had prostate cancer are more likely to develop it themselves.
The risk is lower, however, if the affected relative was diagnosed at age 50 or older and didn’t die from their diagnosis.
Other studies have shown that men who are obese are also more likely to develop prostate cancer.
These studies, though inconclusive and sometimes contradictory, offer new insight on how we might prevent the disease in the future.
5. A healthy prostate is necessary for a man to enjoy sex
The prostate is important in sex because it provides a “frictionless” surface that helps the penis maintain an erection.
Without adequate fluid, when an erect penis moves within the vagina, it can’t achieve enough friction to cause climax. When a man ejaculates and stores fluids in his prostate, he is replenishing lost fluids and this allows for a smoother movement during sex.
This reduces friction which slows down ejaculation as well. Therefore prolonging an enjoyable sexual experience with his partner where both partners can orgasm together or close together – often at the same time.
6. Regular ejaculation can reduce your risk of developing prostate problems
Regular ejaculation reduces the risk of developing prostate problems because it flushes out old fluids from the system.
One study suggested that ejaculation altered the concentration of bacteria in prostatic fluid, increasing its acidity and reducing levels of PSA, an enzyme found in elevated quantities in people with prostate cancer. The researchers then determined that this could lower the risk for the development of prostate problems by as much as 30%.
Encouraging men to urinate after sex also leaves less time for short-chain fatty acids to form, which are thought to be a major cause of increased inflammation within cells and reduced cell function. The best way is if they drink plenty of water beforehand so their urinary bladder and urethra aren’t already full with urine.
7. If you are over 50 years old, you should talk to a doctor about getting screened for prostate health
Aside from those aged 50 years and above, men who get prostate problems are more at risk if they have the following lifestyle factors in their lives.
- They drink alcohol (especially excessive amounts or binge drinking).
- They also have diets high in meat, dairy and eggs which can all lead to inflammation.
- Those who take medications that inhibit testosterone production such as finasteride, cyproterone acetate, or spironolactone are especially likely to be affected by prostate problems.
Men should pay attention to these risk factors and knowledge of symptoms of prostate enlargement so they can seek care early on before it progresses into a full-blown issue.
As a cautionary measure, men who have a family history of prostate cancer should be tested more often than those without a family history. A blood test called Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) can detect an elevated level of PSA protein in the blood which may indicate prostate problems.
According to Dr Lincoln Tan, a Urologist from Gleneagles Hospital Singapore, "The PSA is a non specific marker for prostate cancer. In the equivocal range of 4-10, there is a 25% chance of prostate cancer. The higher the PSA value, the higher the risk of prostate cancer. At very high PSA levels, for e.g more than 100, there is very high chance of advanced prostate cancer. If you have a high PSA, I would suggest consultation with a urologist, with a view towards a MRI of the prostate and possibly a prostate biopsy if required."
8. Treatment for prostate cancer can include surgery, radiation therapy, or hormone therapy
Radiation therapy is the use of high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells. Radiation can be used alone, or with surgery, chemotherapy and drugs. The doctor chooses what type of treatment will work best for a patient’s situation.
In many cases, the goal is to cure prostate cancer as long as it has not spread beyond its original site in the body (known as stage I). If prostate cancer spreads outside its site within the body (stage II) treatments might include hormone therapy.
This effectively stops testosterone production; external beam radiation therapy that uses X-rays from an external source aimed at both sides of the prostate gland; or proton beam radiation that uses protons instead of traditional rays like X-rays.
9. Reducing your risk for developing prostate health problems may be easier than you
Prostate problems can be caused by hormonal changes, infections in the prostate glands, sexually transmitted diseases, and inflammation or injury. To reduce your risk of developing prostate problems you should make sure to:
- Limit exposure to compounds that may cause cancer such as heavy metals and animal carcinogens
- Reduce infections by washing hands before eating, cooking meat properly, urinating after sex, etc.
- Keep a healthy weight through diet and exercise
- Quit smoking. Smoking is a risk factor for developing many cancers including prostate cancer.
- Get your low down on what’s going on with your prostate with routine screenings and checkups
Prostate problems are a common health issue among men. In fact, prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer in men. Many may not be unaware that this organ is important for maintaining a healthy sex life and preventing erectile dysfunction or incontinence.
To prevent any kind of prostatic problem, you should schedule regular medical check-ups and apply the tips mentioned in this article to help treat your symptoms naturally before it gets worse.
If you’re feeling uncomfortable or notice any unusual symptoms, don’t wait: get in touch with Smarter Health today. You can schedule an appointment to meet with a specialist to perform a prostate exam to check for early signs of the disease and find out what’s causing your discomfort.