The prostate gland is a small ball-shaped organ located in the groin area, right underneath the bladder. Its functions focus on men’s reproductive health and hormone metabolism. As the prostate requires androgens to function properly, testosterone deficiency and prostate health are closely linked.
The anatomy and location of the prostate help shed light on its role within the body as it’s positioned within the vicinity of the bladder, intestine, rectum, and urethra. The latter one is the tube connected to the bladder, which runs straight through the prostate — draining the bladder and transporting semen during intercourse.
Prostate health is particularly important as prostate cancer now affects 13 out of every 100 men, with age, race, and genetic factors heavily weighing into the equation. Luckily, in most instances, prostate cancer develops in the back of the prostate (the peripheral zone), which can be found during rectal screenings.
The 3 Main Functions of Your Prostate
Despite its small size, the prostate carries out several important roles within the body and is a key player in men’s reproductive system, producing hormones, supporting urine flow, and allowing erections to form during sex. Due to this wide range of functions, prostate health is critical in maintaining your well-being.
(1) Reproductive Health
The primary function of your prostate is to ensure that semen is able to travel successfully through the urethra and that sperm survives the acidic environment of the vagina. The prostate also produces prostate-specific antigen (PSA) that functions like a glue able to attach to the female cervix.
The prostate’s muscles help push the semen through the urethra and “pump” the sperm out during ejaculation.
(2) Hormone Metabolism
While the majority of the male hormone testosterone is produced in the testes, the adrenal glands also produce some testosterone. The prostate utilizes testosterone to convert it into its biologically active form dihydrotestosterone (DHT) — using two prostate enzymes as a catalyst for this reaction: 5α-Reductase type 1 and 2.
Both testosterone and its metabolized form 5α-DHT support prostate growth. In addition, DHT is essential in the development of male-specific sexual traits, including the development of sexual organs and hair growth in certain areas (facial, pubic, and body hair).
(3) Regulating the Urine Flow
Due to its location, the prostate further helps regulate your urine flow through the urethra and prevents urine leakage. A healthy prostate also keeps urine and semen separated despite both having to travel through the urethra.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), also referred to as prostatic hypertrophy, is a condition where the prostate is enlarged. The increased prostate can then exert pressure on the urethra, which can lead to issues with urination. Normal prostate growth and volume are, therefore, imperative for good prostate health.
Testosterone Deficiency and Prostate Health
The male sex hormone testosterone plays a prominent role in countless aspects of men’s health. Besides regulating the sex drive and contributing to muscle growth, it’s further involved in the production of sperm and red blood cells.
But testosterone levels also correlate with prostate health as research indicates.
Why is Testosterone Important for Your Prostate?
Maintaining healthy levels of testosterone can help keep your prostate happy and healthy. Your prostate feeds on androgens: sex hormones like testosterone and dihydrotestosterone.
These hormones help your prostate develop normally and support both its growth and natural functions. Without the right amount of androgens, your prostate health may be at risk and contributing factors only worsen with age.
Testosterone Deficiency & Prostate Anomalies
Testosterone deficiency can significantly impact a man’s quality of life and has been found to adversely affect prostate health. A recent scientific literature review proposed that low levels of testosterone are more likely to contribute to prostate anomalies, including prostate cancer and BPH, suggesting androgen receptor over-expression.
Treating testosterone deficiency with testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) has been found to be safe — even in patients with a history of prostate cancer. At the same time, research suggests that TRT may also have the potential of lowering the risk for age-related prostate disease.
Serum Total Testosterone & Prostate Volume
As your age progresses, testosterone levels tend to decline, while your risk for prostate enlargement and BPH increases. A study, therefore, analyzed 416 aging men to determine the link between serum testosterone levels and prostate size.
After a 4-year window, the study found that men with low testosterone levels had much larger prostates. Patients with low testosterone levels further had a much higher obesity risk, including a larger BMI and waist circumference, and higher insulin levels.
Testosterone Replacement Therapy
While there has been some debate over the use of TRT in light of prostate cancer, research has not identified it as an independent risk factor. In fact, a review of available clinical data found TRT a reliable therapeutic measure in treating low testosterone levels, while suggesting continued prostate screenings. TRT can be used for testosterone deficiency and is deemed safe for prostate health.
The review further outlined that TRT provides a variety of additional benefits, including a reduced risk for serious cardiovascular events and insulin resistance, as well as improved body fat mass.
Maintaining a Healthy Prostate: What You Can Do
Prostate health is a crucial factor of good overall health in men, particularly in light of an increase in hypogonadism with age. Testosterone deficiency and poor prostate health are closely intertwined and can both lead to pesky symptoms.
What you can do? Here are just a few tips.
Prostate cancer is more likely to occur as you age, so make sure to check your PSA regularly (via a simple blood test) as cancer may cause PSA levels to spike. A rectal exam can further help identify growths on your prostate.
At the same time, with many side-effects connected to low T — specifically in light of testosterone levels naturally declining with age — make sure to ask your healthcare provider to monitor your testosterone levels.
A healthy and balanced diet may promote prostate health while exercising regularly can help lower your risk of an enlarged prostate.
(3) Tobacco Use
Smoking can significantly increase your cancer risk, including that of prostate cancer, therefore, try to avoid using tobacco products.
Your Prostate Health is in YOUR Hands
As we grow older, our health becomes more vulnerable. It’s imperative you continue to take care of yourself and use the advanced screening technologies available today for prostate health.
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