Guarding The Gland: Promoting Prostate Health During Men’s Health Month

By: Monica Nagele

One area of grave concern for the lack of preventive measures with men’s health is prostate health. Prostate health? Oh no. Just reading this might elicit a shuttering response from some men. When we think of the prostate, we immediately think of the, gulp, dreaded digital rectal exam. Gasp! Ok. Ok. Let’s collect ourselves. Collect our composure. Everyone take a deep breath. I did it. I mentioned the digital rectal exam. This procedure, for those that may not be aware, involves a provider inserting a gloved finger into the rectum of a patient to examine the size and texture of the prostate. But why does this evoke such recoil? Why is it that a simple procedure that could mean the difference between life and death equates to fear and potential disgust?

It could be the lack of knowledge on exactly what is proper prostate health, or what exactly is the prostate gland and its functions. So, let’s chat for a second about what the prostate gland is and why it is important to maintain proper prostate health. Take a moment and visualize a normal sized walnut in its shell. Got it? This is the approximate size of a healthy prostate. It sits just below a man’s bladder anatomically and his urethra travels through the center of the gland. It is responsible for producing seminal fluids which assists in the transporting of semen during ejaculation.  

Seems like a simple gland? Minimal function when it comes to the male physiology and anatomy. Produces some “fancy fluid.” Big deal, right? It actually is a big deal. As men age that walnut sized gland can begin to enlarge, which defined by the Mayo Clinic is benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), and can lead to unpleasant indicators. Possible symptoms that may be experienced are things like frequent urination, difficulty urinating, urinary tract infections, blood in the urine, and even possibly erectile dysfunction. It is important to note that an enlarged prostate isn’t the only cause of the listed symptoms, but it could be a culprit.

But fear not! There are plenty of actions that could be taken to help support a healthy prostate gland. First and foremost, eating a well-balanced diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Avoid excess alcohol and red meat, as these have each been linked to prostate issues, and of course, it is important to exercise regularly. A healthy body can help support a healthy prostate.

You may be asking yourself, what if I (or someone I know) is already experiencing prostate problems? Pursue the medical advice of a healthcare provider. There are plenty of treatments available, from medicine to surgeries, but without your willingness to seek out that care you will only continue to suffer from symptoms that may increase in severity. In some cases, this could contribute to the increased chance of mortality should the issues be caused by prostate cancer.

Don’t let what could be prevented, or treated, steal a healthy, productive life from you and your loved ones. Visit a healthcare provider whose job it is to support you on your journey to leading a fruitful life with as little health concerns as possible. “Healthy men, strong men: Let’s take charge of our health!”  This men’s health awareness message is brought to you by your local Purdue Extension partner, your education partner for life.

Article brought to you by the Purdue Extension Men’s Health Team

Contact: Monica Nagele at [email protected] with questions.

Monica Nagele is the County Extension Director and educator of health and human science for the Montgomery County Purdue Extension.