The prostate gland is an important part of the male sexual reproduction system. It is located between the penis and the bladder and it surrounds the urethra. The urethra, part of both the urinary and reproductive system, provides the pathway for urine and seminal fluid to exit the body. Components of seminal fluid include sperm, and the fluid is secreted by the prostate gland during male ejaculation. The purpose of the fluid secreted by the prostate is to protect and nurture sperm as it is pushed through the urethra and out of the body.
The size of a healthy prostate is roughly the size of a walnut. However, over time, the vast majority of men over 40 years old will experience an enlargement of the gland. Some men may also begin to experience discomfort and symptoms manifesting in diseases such as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or prostate cancer. Symptoms are largely due to the swelling exerting pressure on the urethra and bladder.
- Nocturia (frequent night-time urination)
- Burning, painful urination
- Dysuria (difficult urination)
- Dribbling or incomplete urination
- Hematuria (blood in the urine)
- Urinary tract infection (UTI)
- Pain in the lower abdomen
- Pain on ejaculation
If you experience any of these symptoms, plus a fever, you may have an infection or traumatic injury of the prostate, requiring immediate medical attention. The cause may be a condition called prostatitis, which is inflammation of the prostate, and it can occur in young males as well. A fever is not always present in cases of prostatitis.
Although BPH and prostate cancer produce similar symptoms, their causes are different. BPH occurs due to naturally-occurring hormonal changes in a man's life and may never cause any problems. By the time the average male is 40, the prostate may be as large as an apricot; by 60, it might reach the size of a lemon.
Prostate cancer, on the other hand, is more mysterious. The exact cause is unknown, but there are known risk factors. These factors include aging, being of African American heritage, obesity and a family history of prostate or breast cancer. Prostate cancer is the most commonly occurring cancer in men.
If you experience any of these symptoms, or if you wish to learn more about maintaining good prostate health, consider seeing your acupuncture and Oriental medicine practitioner. Very often, symptoms of some prostate diseases are diagnosed as a kidney deficiency.
According to the theory of acupuncture and Oriental medicine, the kidneys represent the foundation from which all of life exists. Kidney qi, the energy associated with the kidneys, is the gauge that determines the state of health for the whole body. For example, if kidney qi is deficient, this indicates that an imbalance exists, and this imbalance may require treatment from your acupuncture and Oriental medicine practitioner.
It is natural for kidney qi to decline as we age. As a matter of fact, that is one way acupuncture and Oriental medicine describes the aging process. According to the theory, there are certain foods that help fortify kidney qi. This includes beef, root vegetables, bone marrow soups, seeds (especially black sesame), blueberries, blackberries and any bean that is shaped like a kidney, such as kidney or black beans. Foods that are especially helpful for men suffering symptoms of enlarged prostate are pumpkin, mushrooms and berries.
Find an Acupuncturist near you to learn how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help ease your symptoms!
About the Author: Vanessa Vogel Batt, L.Ac., MSTOM, studied at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, and practiced acupuncture and Oriental medicine in New York for several years. Vanessa enjoys traveling the world, and has published articles on acupuncture and Oriental medicine and related health topics for websites and publications in both the U.S. and abroad.