About BPH

The following is information about Prostate problems and treatments which I have provided in the hope that you may become better informed and thus like me do your utmost to avoid the need for any major medical intervention.

Benign Prostate Hypertrophy (enlargement of the prostate)

BPHYour prostate gland when healthy is a walnut-sized organ located just underneath the bladder. In the form of a donut, it surrounds the tube (the urethra) that carries urine from the bladder. Your prostate has a key role to play in the male reproductive system. It secretes about 25% of the seminal fluid that's combined with sperm during ejaculation. The prostatic fluid acts as a lubricant to prevent infection in the urethra and protects and energizes sperm.

In an ideal world the prostate would stay the same size throughout an adult male's life and for some men, seemingly it does, because symptoms of a problem may be hardly noticeable.

Most men though, become aware of their prostate any time from the age of 40, when the male hormones (androgens), the most predominate of which is testosterone, begin to decline. Testosterone levels decline at a steady rate thereafter at approximately one percent per annum. As testosterone levels decline, the estrogen ratio increases (this is significant because estrogen stimulates cell growth) and as a consequence, other male hormones that are synthesised from testosterone are thrown out of balance. One of these hormones is dihydrotestosterone or DHT. An enzyme known as 5-alpha reductase converts your testosterone into DHT.

The upshot of all of this is that the prostate begins to enlarge, bringing about the condition known as benign prostate hypertrophy. Interestingly excessive DHT is also known to be a cause of acne and male pattern baldness and in females, facial hair.

As the prostate starts to enlarge it exerts pressure on the walls of the urethra and begins to act like clamp. Symptoms of this are a decrease in urinary flow which can cause the bladder to become irritated to the point where it contracts independently even when it isn't full. Unless corrective measures are taken, the bladder can become ever weaker and the need to urinate can become more and more frequent. Leakage or dribbling is another symptom of the problem.

Although the majority of men feel the effects of BPH in their 50's, research shows that 90 percent of all men will have symptoms in their 70's and 80's. BPH can cause a lot of discomfort and concern and problems are often exacerbated because of reluctance to talk about it even to their doctor. BPH can have an enormous impact on a man's health. Apart from a general decrease in the quality of life, BPH can affect sexual performance, cause bladder infections and even lead to kidney failure.

It is important to understand that BPH is not cancer but it is nevertheless a serious health issue that should be resolved. Don't just think the problem will go away on its own – you are strongly recommended to do something about it sooner rather than later.

Doctors have for a long time used a blood test known as PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen - a protein produced by the cells of the prostate gland) to diagnose prostate problems and although this test is known to be inaccurate it is still a useful indicator of a problem.

The prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test measures the level of PSA in the blood. A blood sample is taken and the amount of PSA is measured in a laboratory. When the prostate gland enlarges, PSA levels in the blood tend to rise. PSA levels can however rise due to cancer or benign (not cancerous) conditions.

Because PSA is produced by the body and can be used to detect disease, it is sometimes called a biological marker or tumour marker.

When a PSA test is used in conjunction with a 'digital rectal examination' (by the doctor) of the prostate, a determination about the situation is likely to be more accurate. A DRE test while not a pleasant experience could be a life saver. When you have your next 'medical' get it done.

Don't worry though, it isn't anything like what is depicted here.