What Is the Prostate?
gland is a male sex gland. The healthy prostate is about the size of a
walnut and generally measures about 20 cc in volume. It lies just below
the urinary bladder and surrounds the upper part of the urethra and the
neck of the bladder. Prostate is closely related to seminal vesicles,
which locate superiorly to the prostate.
Prostate does not produce any sex hormones. But it is affected by male
sex hormones and needs male hormone to function. The main male hormone is
testosterone, which is made mainly by the testicles and adrenal glands.
Testosterone stimulates the activity and growth of the prostate.
By the age of fifty, about
30% of men will start to experience difficulties with urination related to
enlargement of the prostate gland, also known as benign prostatic
hypertrophy (BPH). These symptoms often lead to an increased sense of
frustration and embarrassment, as well as the disruption of normal
Enlargement of the prostate is usually caused by an abnormal overgrowth
and/or swelling of the tissue of the prostate, which then blocks the
urethra or opening from the bladder.
Throughout their lives, men produce both testosterone (an important male
hormone) and small amounts of estrogen - a female hormone. As men age, the
amount of active testosterone in the blood decreases, leaving a higher
proportion of estrogen. Studies done with animals have suggested that BPH
may occur because the higher amount of estrogen within the gland increases
the activity of substances that promote cell growth.
What is Dihydrotestosterone
Another theory focuses on
a substance derived from testosterone in the prostate, which more actively
stimulates prostate growth. Most animals lose their ability to produce DHT
as they age. However, some research has indicated that even with a drop in
the blood's testosterone level, older men continue to produce and
accumulate high levels of DHT in the prostate. Scientists have also noted
that men who do not produce DHT do not develop BPH. 5-alpha reductase is
the enzyme which converts testosterone to
dihydrotestosterone (DHT) which, besides stimulating prostate growth
is the hormone that triggers androgenetic alopecia in individuals who are
Some researchers suggest that BPH may develop as a result of
"instructions" given to cells early in life. According to this theory, BPH
occurs because cells in one section of the gland follow these instructions
and "reawaken" later in life. These "reawakened" cells then deliver
signals to other cells in the gland, instructing them to grow or making
them more sensitive to hormones that influence growth.
There appears to be little or no connection between BPH and prostate
cancer development. PSA, a lab test for detecting prostate cancer can
occasionally be elevated in BPH also.
Several natural treatments have been found to be very useful in preventing
and treating BPH. Some products contain combinations of beneficial agents
and as such may be more effective.