Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy (BPH) is a condition that affects men only and is characterised by an enlarged prostate, leading to many urinary system disturbances. BPH is generally uncommon before the age of 40, but by the age of 50, half of the male population will display symptoms, increasing by 10% for each decade of life.
Prostate 101The prostate is a walnut-sized gland located at the top of the bladder that surrounds the urethra and plays an important role in mens reproductive health. As the prostate is located at the intersection of the reproductive and urinary systems in men, any enlargement of the prostate can lead to problems passing urine.
BPH and urinary disturbancesAs the prostate enlarges, it presses against the urethra, just like a clamp on a garden hose. The bladder wall becomes thicker and irritable, contracting even when it contains small amounts of urine, triggering more frequent urination. Eventually, the bladder weakens and loses the ability to empty itself, leaving urine in the bladder. The narrowing of the urethra and incomplete emptying of the bladder are the major causes of the urinary problems associated with BPH.
Normal growth phases of the prostateThe prostate gland goes through two main periods of growth as men mature. The first occurs during puberty, when the prostate doubles in size and the second occurs at around age 25. This second growth phase often results, years later, in BPH. Researchers suggest that BPH may develop as a result of ‘instructions’ given to cells early in life, only to ‘reawaken’ later in life. These ‘reawakened’ cells instruct the prostate gland cells to grow or make them more sensitive to hormones that influence growth.
Hormones drive BPHMen produce both testosterone and small amounts of oestrogen during their lifetime. As men age, testosterone levels tend to decrease, leaving higher levels of oestrogen. Animal studies suggest BPH occurs because these higher levels of oestrogen promote cell growth, while other research suggests that even with a drop in testosterone levels, older men continue to produce and accumulate high levels of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) encouraging prostate cell growth.
Symptoms of BPH
- Increased urine frequency
- A feeling of urinary obstruction
- Increased urinary urgency
- Need to get up at night to urinate
- Intermittent urine flow
- Decreased urine flow
- Enlarged prostate
Natural solutions for prostate health
- Zincreduces oxidative stress that may contribute to inflammation of the prostate.
- Saw palmetto is clinically trialled for the management of medically diagnosed BPH. Saw palmetto is widely researched and thought to provide anti–inflammatory properties and help to reduce levels of DHT.
- Pygeum contains fatty acids and sterol compounds similar to Saw palmetto so helps reduce the effects of DHT. Pygeum also inhibits the production of inflammatory mediators in the prostate, helping to dampen the inflammatory process involved in the enlargement of the prostate.
- Mix up your prteins and include animal and plant based
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol & margarine
- Consume organic fruits & vegetables
- Hydrate with water
- Increase healthy omega-3 fats with cold water fish
- Green tea contains antioxidants thought beneficial in supporting prostate health