Prostate Health Facts

What is an Enlarging Prostate?

As one of the primary organs in the male reproductive system, the prostate produces fluids in semen that help to sustain and protect sperm against natural vaginal acids. The prostate doubles by the time a man reaches 25 and continues to grow again when many men are in their 50ís and through the remainder of their life.

As the prostate grows it can put excess pressure on the urethra (the small tube that carries urine and semen). As this pressure increases the urethra can become pinched which can lead to painful and embarrassing symptoms such as urinary hesitancy, painful urination, and erectile dysfunction. If left untreated these conditions may eventually require surgery. This enlarging of the prostate is clinically known as Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia or BPH.

The Stages of Prostate Growth
At birth the prostate weights around 1.5 grams During puberty the prostate grows to around 11 grams In the early to middle 20ís the prostate grows to around 18 grams In the early 50ís there is a new growth phase which continues until around age 70 where the prostate usually reaches around 31 grams. This phase of growth is what doctors call benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).

About BPH (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia)
The prostate gland is different than most of the other organs because it grows in size during several stages of a manís life. Doctors refer to this condition as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), or benign prostatic hypertrophy. This non-cancerous enlargement is part of the normal maturation process in all males. It first occurs during puberty (when it nearly doubles in size) and again around the age of 25. The prostate will continue to grow through the remainder of life, usually causing significant complications beginning at the age of 40. In fact, some 90% of all men in their sixties and seventies complain of prostate issues. BPH is often a condition of concern for most men, as its symptoms can often mimic those found in prostate cancer. However, BPH is not indicative of prostate cancer.

Why Does the Prostate Grow?
There are conflicting theories as to why the prostate glands growth goes through these phases. The two theories are based on changes hormonal levels.

There is mounting evidence to suggest that the growth in the prostate requires conversion of testosterone into DHT (dihydrotestosterone), along with the presence of the 5-alpha reductase enzyme which synthesizes testosterone into DHT. When DHT binds to prostate cells it can trigger the release of growth factors that cause the prostate to grow.

Change in Sexual Hormones
As a man ages the relative levels of the testosterone and estrogen change, with estrogen levels increasing in relation to testosterone. There is evidence to suggest that the increase in relative estrogen promotes cell growth in the prostate gland, particularly when in the presence of elevated DHT levels.

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