Prostate problems: The prostate - the man's sore spot
The prostate gland (also called the prostate gland) is the part of the male sex organ that is often only noticed when things (literally) go wrong.
Problems with the prostate often first become noticeable through discomfort when urinating. These can all be signs of a disease - or more precisely, they can indicate an enlargement of the prostate gland.
Prostate problems - affect almost every man at least once
If you have problems with your prostate, you are in good company. Prostate problems are one of the most common male sexual conditions. The World Health Organisation estimates that almost every man in the western industrialised world seeks medical treatment for prostate problems at least once in his life, and one in three will have prostate surgery in the course of his life.
Benign enlargement of the prostate (BPH for short) is comparatively common and should be strictly distinguished from malignant degeneration, or prostate cancer. There are several medications that can often treat benign prostatic hyperplasia very well. In general, men should go for regular check-ups from the age of 45. The doctor can quickly and reliably diagnose how healthy your prostate is by examining your palpation and determining your PSA level. More about screening and diagnosis.
Is the prostate important for sexuality?
Yes. Scientific studies have shown that even benign prostate enlargements have a negative influence on a man's ability to have an erection. In addition, prostate problems are often accompanied by LUTS (Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms). But changes in urination, such as an unstable bladder, can also have a negative impact on sexuality.
Drugs taken for benign prostate enlargement (alpha1 receptor blockers) can trigger so-called retrograde ejaculation. This means that the ejaculate does not come out of the front of the penis as you are used to, but goes into the bladder. In this case, we also speak of a "dry orgasm". This is sometimes experienced as very unpleasant by the men affected. Therefore, when treating benign prostate enlargement, it is important to pay attention to which medications are used.
Among other things, so-called 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors are used in the treatment of benign prostate enlargement. In the long term, these are supposed to reduce the volume of an enlarged prostate. But caution is advised here! These 5-alpha receptor blockers interfere with the hormone balance and can have a negative effect on the libido. In the long term, 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors can also cause changes in the erectile tissue, which in turn leads to erectile dysfunction.
Even more than the benign changes in the prostate, the malignant changes can have very serious influences on a man's sexuality. From the aforementioned "dry orgasms" to erectile dysfunction, anything is possible. These can occur especially if the therapeutic measures were, for example, surgical interventions or radiotherapy. Therefore, it is important that preservation of sexual function is carried out early enough.
Sometimes, however, anti-hormonal therapies are also given for existing prostate carcinoma. This can also lead to serious changes not only in sexuality, but also in the general well-being of the man. This is because anti-hormonal therapy interferes with the king hormone of men, testosterone.
How can I keep my prostate healthy?
Regular physical activity - both specific and non-specific - plays a very important role in keeping the prostate healthy. Specific activity can include pelvic floor exercise, for example. General physical activity includes moderate conditioning or strength training.
Regular ejaculation can also have a positive effect on the health of the prostate. This is because it regularly "flushes out" the entire reproductive tract. For example, negative substances or bacteria are better flushed out of the body. Some studies even suggest that regular ejaculation can delay or prevent prostate cancer.
The most important tips for a good diet to protect the prostate gland
A healthy diet can have a very positive effect on prostate health. The prostate should always be well supplied with blood. Therefore, special proteins are especially important for the vessels. It is recommended to take L-arginine. This is best done in the form of hazelnuts, almonds or peanuts - tip: eat 200 grams throughout the day.
Caution: If you choose peanuts as a snack for in-between meals, be sure to choose unsalted peanuts. This is because the salt intake to the body should not be increased unnecessarily.
A slightly modified version is to eat only 100 grams of hazelnuts, almonds or peanuts per day and then - for example at lunch - 200 grams of tuna or salmon. It is important that the intake of L-arginine is spread out over the whole day. Background: L-arginine is absorbed and then quickly metabolised. By distributing the intake, a relatively constant high level can be maintained throughout the day.
Another way to do something good for the prostate is to supply the body with more citrulline. Watermelons, for example, contain a particularly high amount of citrulline, especially in the rind. So if you eat a watermelon (a quarter of a fruit a day is advisable), you should also eat the somewhat whitish flesh directly on the rind. If watermelons are too juicy and therefore too impractical, you can also get your daily citrulline boost with the help of 300 grams of roasted watermelon seeds. Similar to L-arginine, it is important to distribute this throughout the day. It should be noted that the seeds must be bitten open each time: Only the white inside is eaten!
Alternatives to watermelon are cucumbers and courgettes, which also contain a lot of citrulline. The same goes for the seeds of watermelon and garden squash.
Eating foods containing flavonoids can also have a positive effect on the prostate. These foods include the following fruits: apples, pears, blueberries, strawberries, grapes, oranges, lemons, grapefruit, plums, apricots, cherries and beetroot. The recommended amount is several handfuls, spread throughout the day.
Secondary plant substances, such as indole-3-carbinol, also contribute to the health of the prostate. A supply can be obtained by eating broccoli, cauliflower or white cabbage. The same healthy effect can also be achieved with all other cruciferous vegetables, spinach, kale or green leafy vegetables. The recommended amount is two handfuls at a time, ideally with lunch.
If you want to do something good for your prostate, you don't have to change your entire diet. It can be a first step to use a better quality oil when cooking. Safflower oil, sunflower oil, hemp oil and soybean oil contain unsaturated or essential fatty acids that cannot be synthesised by the body.
In principle, a healthy diet should include reducing the consumption of sugar in both food and drink. But even those who regularly spend time outdoors and exercise are already making a valuable contribution to their prostate. This is because sunlight enables the human body to produce vitamin D. The daily requirement may not be completely met. Although this does not completely cover the daily requirement, it can cover 80 to 90 percent. The remaining vitamin D can be obtained with the help of a conscious diet. Fatty fish such as salmon, herring or mackerel as well as liver, egg yolk and some edible mushrooms are recommended in this context.
As many men grow older, the prostate begins to grow. This process is known in medicine as "benign prostatic hyperplasia", or BPH for short, and its consequences usually become noticeable gradually. After the age of 50, prostate problems can become really unpleasant. This is because the enlarged prostate often causes frequent urination - especially at night. In addition, there are various types of problems with urination itself.
Prostata size is NOT everything
This change is usually benign - and completely natural, as it is part of the normal ageing process in men. Scientists think that changes in the male hormone balance "encourage" the prostate to grow.
An enlarged prostate does not cause symptoms in every man. It depends on the direction in which the prostate gland expands. Only if it grows towards the urethra can it constrict it. Emptying the bladder must then take place against increased resistance - the typical problems occur.
Irritation and emptying prostata problems
Prostate problems are divided into two categories: Irritative symptoms and voiding disorders.
Irritative symptoms, which cause considerable, unpleasant problems for those affected even in the early stages
- Frequent urination
- Increased urination at night
- Abrupt, imperative urge to urinate
- Pain when urinating
- Feeling of residual urine
- Urge incontinence
Voiding disorders ("obstructive" symptoms):
- Delayed start of bladder emptying
- Weak, frequently interrupted urine stream
- Protracted emptying of the bladder
- Post-bladder dribbling
- Residual urine formation
Prostate problems are progressive. This means that without treatment they will get worse and other symptoms are likely to develop. That's why it makes sense to do something about them early, specifically and permanently.
Act early if you have prostate problems
Benign prostate enlargement is not a malignant cancer. Nevertheless, the problems it causes are more than just a nuisance. The good news is that most prostate problems can be treated effectively and gently. And the earlier you do something about it, the better!
Take advantage of the opportunities for cancer screening. The (statutory) health insurance companies pay for an annual preventive medical check-up for men over the age of 45. The usual diagnostic procedures, such as rectal palpation of the prostate, ultrasound examinations or urine tests are usually painless.
Prostate medication - less urge to urinate, more zest for life
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Effective prostate medicines can reduce BPH problems such as the frequent urge to urinate or discomfort when urinating, and thus significantly improve the quality of life again. Thus, in most cases, a surgical reduction of the prostate is not medically necessary.
Even a very large prostate does not necessarily have to be operated on. Before the operation, the doctor can use chemical-synthetic preparations to reduce the size of the prostate. In this way, surgery can be avoided altogether in the best case.
Prostate drugs can be divided into two groups:
1. herbal preparations - available without a prescription
2. synthetic chemical substances - available only on prescription.
Herbal prostate medicines are generally better tolerated than synthetic chemical preparations and are therefore available from pharmacies without a doctor's prescription. Unfortunately, not all herbal preparations are of the same quality and therefore differ considerably in terms of the effectiveness that can be expected.
For example, there is no scientifically recognised evidence of efficacy for traditionally used preparations (e.g. often as pumpkin preparations). Their field of application is therefore limited to "strengthening and invigoration of bladder function".
In contrast, recognised effective herbal medicinal products (phytopharmaceuticals) receive a marketing authorisation from the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM). In order to receive such approval, herbal prostate medicines must meet the same strict requirements as chemically-synthesised medicines.
The good efficacy of chemical-synthetic prostate drugs is countered by the sometimes severe side effects, such as shortness of breath, dizziness, impotence or retrograde ejaculation. Accordingly, they require a prescription and may only be taken under medical supervision.
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