Aging is no fun for any of us. With aging often comes some age-related challenges. For men, prostate issues are among one of the most common health issues associated with aging.
What is the Prostate?
The prostate is about the size of a walnut. It sits at the base of the penis and wraps around the urethra (the tube that urine comes from). Benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) is the medical term for an enlarged prostate. Half of men 60 and older, will experience BPH. Nearly all men by age 80 will experience an enlarged prostate. As the prostate continues to grow bigger as a man gets older, it can cause problems.
Urinary Health and the Prostate
Urinary problems are common with an enlarged prostate experienced by many men. The good news is that is can be treated. The most common medication used to treat urinary symptoms related to prostate enlargement are alpha-blockers. These medications enlarge the urethral channel by relaxing the muscle fibers in it. 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors may also be used to shrink the prostate gland by as much as a third of its size. There are also medical procedures that help to remove excess prostatic tissue.
Inflamed Prostate – Prostatitis
Prostatitis, or inflamed prostate, occurs in about 10% of men at least once during their lives. If you have prostatitis, you will likely know it as urination will be frequent and painful. Prevention to avoid prostatitis includs staying hydrated, treating BPH when it occurs, not skipping preventative prostate exams and test and urinating regularly.
While we most often think of prostate cancer affecting men older than 50 years old – which is true – it can be found in men in their late 30s and 40s as well.
As a man, it’s important to know your risk factors for prostate cancer, which primarily include race and genetics:
- Race: It is well-documented that men who have a single first-degree relative suffering from prostate cancer have two-times the risk factor of developing prostate cancer while men with two or more first-degree relative suffering from prostate cancer have five times the risk of developing prostate cancer. Studies have also shown that African-American men have a greater risk of not only developing prostate cancer but have a higher morbidity and mortality rate as well.
- Genetics: Recent advances in genomics are beginning to reveal a correlation between mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes and the development of prostate cancer.
- Other factors: Various other factors including but not limited to diet, level of sexual activity, obesity and exposure to herbicides like Agent Orange also play a role in prostate cancer.
Know the symptoms of prostate cancer:
- Difficulty initiating or stopping a urine stream
- Frequent urination
- Pain on urination
- Pain on ejaculation
- Blood in your semen