The prostate gland may be a small player, but it can have a big impact on your game. With all the detection and prevention measures available today, prostate problems aren't as "silent" as they used to be. And sure, nobody looks forward to "the exam," but considering the possible alternative, it's well worth it.
KNOW YOURSELF, KNOW YOUR OPPONENT:
- The prostate helps to manufacture the fluid that makes up a man's semen.
- Men over the age of 50 are at higher risk for an enlarged prostate and prostate cancer.
- As a man reaches middle age, the prostate may increase in size, which can lead to urination problems. When this happens, it's called enlarged prostate, or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
- Enlarged prostate isn't cancer, nor has it been shown to lead to it.
- Prostate cancer is characterized by the of growth of abnormal cells in the prostate. Warning signs include hard or lumpy areas on your prostate.
- If caught early enough, chances of surviving prostate cancer increase.
HOW TO PLAY IT:
- Get screened. Your doctor may recommend a prostate exam at least once a year after the age of 40. For prostate cancer detection, the American Cancer Society and the American Urological Association also recommend annual prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests - along with a digital rectal exam (DRE) - for all men over 50. Men over 40 with a family history of prostate cancer or who are of African-American descent may be at higher risk. For these men, an annual DRE and PSA test are recommended.
- Keep pressure off. The prostate gland is very sensitive, and easily irritated. You can avoid irritation by urinating regularly, specifically, not "holding it" for long periods of time.
- Talk to your doctor about limiting fluids in the evening if you have an enlarged prostate.
- Make sure you're getting enough of vitamins A, D, and E, typically found in fruits and green leafy vegetables, in addition to a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet. (Isn't that the answer to everything?)
Taking care of your prostate takes more than an annual checkup. Be proactive, because there's plenty you can do to keep all your equipment in playing shape. And here's a move you can make right now - the BPH Symptom Assessment Tool at TacklingMensHealth.com.