One of the most important health issues to keep an eye on as a man gets older is a part of the male reproductive system that often gets overlooked – the prostate gland. June is Men’s Health Month, and what better time to focus on prostate supplements for men’s health. Keep reading to find out more about prostate health and natural ways to help support a healthy prostate gland.
What is the Prostate?
The prostate is a walnut-shaped gland located around the urethra (where urine is eliminated), which grows larger and as much as doubles in size or more after age 25 in men. Sometimes an excessively enlarged prostate gland (known as benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH) can put extra pressure on the urethra. This can lead to several health problems, including:
- Frequent urination
- Difficulty in urinating
- Urinary leakage
- Urinary tract infections
- Reduced fluid in sperm
Eventually, unchecked prostate issues may lead to prostate cancer.
According to Harvard Medical School, “An estimated one-third of American men with prostate cancer use at least one form of complementary medicine therapy, including herbs and supplements.”
To prevent or ease prostate health issues, prescription medications such as alpha-blockers may help relax the prostate and bladder muscles, making urination easier. Doctors may also prescribe 5-alpha reductase inhibitors that block the hormones that cause the prostate to grow larger. Sometimes, men must also undergo minimally invasive surgery to remove extra prostate tissue.
Fortunately, there are some natural remedies that may help promote prostate health and temporarily relieve BPH symptoms.
Natural Ways to Support Prostate Health
Saw Palmetto: This fruit from a palm tree has been used to temporarily relieve BPH symptoms and other potential benefits, but minor side effects can include headaches and upset stomach. More research is needed on the effects of saw palmetto on male reproductive health. In the meantime, try it for yourself to see if it makes a difference to your health!
Pygeum: This African plum tree bark is commonly used in Europe to help empty the bladder, but long-term effects are unknown. It may also cause headaches and stomach upset.
Stinging nettle: Also used in Europe, stinging nettle leaf – and more commonly nettle root – are used in conjunction with other herbs such as saw palmetto and pygeum to help temporarily relieve BPH symptoms. However, stinging nettle may cause a sharp sting and could lead to a skin rash or upset stomach.
Rye grass pollen extract: This mixture of corn, rye, and timothy grass pollen extracts has been reported to help men ease the need to urinate during the nighttime. Be careful using this extract if you have pollen allergies.
Beta-sitosterol: This herbal medication may support strong urine flow, but long-term effects of its use are unknown.
Good Nutrition: Living a healthy lifestyle is also a good way to help maintain prostate health. Men who eat a diet rich in fruits and dark, leafy vegetables reportedly have fewer symptoms of BPH.
Do You Have BPH?
If you’re unsure about your prostate health, your healthcare provider can test you for BPH in many ways depending on the complexity of your potential condition. The best treatment choice will depend on many factors, including your age, overall health, symptoms, and prostate size.
How to Test for BPH
- Digital rectal exam
- Urine test
- Blood test indicating kidney health
- Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test
- Urinary flow test
- Postvoid residual volume test
- 24-hour voiding diary
- Transrectal ultrasound
- Prostate biopsy
- Urodynamic and pressure flow studies
Help prevent prostate cancer by getting screened by your doctor! Men ages 40 and older, and those with two fellow family members or more who had prostate cancer before age 65 should get prostate exams annually.
Also, it’s important to note that certain herbs and supplements listed above may interact with each other or with your prescribed medications. Always consult with your healthcare provider first to discuss your individual medical plan.
How do you support a healthy prostate? Share your thoughts in the comments below.