Gentlemen, Do Not Ignore Your Prostate

Yes. I am female. So why am I writing about prostate glands. Well, for one, I have a husband and for two and three, my father-in-law died as a result of ignoring his prostate and my step-dad was recently in the hospital because of his prostate.

In my father-in-law’s case, he had an enlarged prostate that made it very difficult to urinate. He had trouble sleeping at night because he would feel the urge to urinate, get up, try in vane to empty his bladder, and go back to bed only to have to get up and do it again because he could not completely empty his bladder. This went on for a very long time without him seeking medical help for his condition despite our urgings. Not all enlarged prostates become malignant, but his did. Finally, when he was in extreme pain, he went to his doctor only to be diagnosed with cancer of the prostate. His prostate was successfully treated with radioactive pellets and he was pronounced free of prostate cancer by several normal PSA tests. That is not what killed him.

His prostate cancer had moved into his bones. He moved back to Germany where his wife (my step mother-in-law) was living for a treatment that he could not get here in the States. It was not successful. Gentlemen, do not ignore your prostate gland.

My step-dad didn’t have a clue anything was amiss until one Friday afternoon he could not urinate at all. Not one drop would come out and by the evening he was in such extreme discomfort that he had to call 911. I suspect he had been receiving little messages all along that something was not right, but did not do anything about it.

What is PSA? The letters stand for Prostate Specific Antigen, which is a protein produced by cells in the prostate gland. Elevated PSA levels are generally associated with prostate cancer, though it does not necessarily mean the prostate is malignant. A quick and simple blood test is all that is needed to check the PSA levels in a male’s blood.

A healthy or normal level for total PSA is under 4.0 nanograms per milliliter of blood. Your doctor may just simply give you a number like 3 or 4 or 5. A number higher than 4 indicates a chance that your prostate is cancerous. Further tests would be needed to make the final determination.

Other reasons for a higher than normal PSA level are prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate) or BPH (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia), a benign swelling of the prostate gland.

Is an enlarged prostate common? Enlarged prostates, known as BPH, are common in aging males. Benign means that the enlargement is not caused by cancer or infection. Hyperplasia prostate protocol reviews means enlargement. As many as 50% of males have symptoms of BPH by age 60 and 90% of males have symptoms by age 85. So it is very common. I know one male who is only 55 and already has a much enlarged prostate.

What causes an enlarged prostate? Sadly, researchers are not exactly certain what causes enlargement of the prostate. It’s thought that it is the result of an excess of a certain hormone, dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Persistently elevated levels of DHT may cause the prostate to continue to grow even after it has reached full size. It has also been noted that males who do not produce DHT, do not usually experience enlarged prostate problems.

Just to complicate things, some males with enlarged prostates do not have any symptoms at all. Apparently, the only way to be certain about the state of your prostate is for your doctor to perform that awkward and uncomfortable test.

What can be done about an enlarged prostate? For those males who have minimal symptoms, “watchful waiting” is sometimes recommended. Talk to your doctor about a schedule of regular check ups and be aware of any change in your symptoms.

For those with more severe symptoms, drug therapy is usually recommended. There are two classes of drugs used:

o Alpha Blockers relax the smooth muscle around the bladder neck and within the urethra. Common side effects are fatigue, dizziness, drop in blood pressure and nasal congestion.
o 5-alpha Reductase Inhibitors block the production of DHT mentioned above.
These two drugs can be used in combination and are often most effective that way, but there is increased risk of side effects. This should be carefully discussed with your doctor.

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