If you were assigned male at birth (AMAB), you have a prostate. The prostate is a small organ located in your rectum that controls certain bodily functions, and can also play an exciting role in your sex life.
There are many things you can do to keep your prostate healthy, and it's important to know what can go wrong if prostate health is not maintained.
An enlarged prostate might seem scary, but we promise it’s actually pretty normal. However, large, swollen prostates do have the potential to cause certain issues, so it’s best to have all the information you’ll need to help you understand what’s going on, and if there really may be a reason to worry.
An enlarged prostate can cause sexual problems, such as:
- Erectile dysfunction
- Reduced sex drive
- Decreased sexual satisfaction
If you don’t know anything about your prostate or how it could become enlarged, no need to worry! GIDDI is here to help and give you all the information you need.
What Is a Prostate?
First things first, the prostate is a small gland, about the size of a walnut, located in the middle of a person's pelvis — below the bladder, and in front of the rectum.
You can locate the prostate by inserting a (lubed) finger inside the anus and pointing your finger towards your belly button. It will feel like a fleshy bulge that is texturally different from the surrounding tissue.
The prostate also plays a key role in reproduction. Although the testicles produce sperm, the prostate helps make some of the fluid in semen, which carries sperm from your testicles when you ejaculate.
The prostate is also the spot in your body that will provide intense pleasure because it is loaded with nerve endings and is incredibly sensitive (in the best way!). The prostate gland swells when aroused, and putting direct or indirect pressure on it during sex can lead to extraordinary feelings of pleasure and an explosive orgasm.
Scientists are still trying to discover why the prostate commonly gets larger as people with prostates get older. The prostate goes through a period of growth, and it usually starts growing around the age of 40.
Some people experience continuous growth for years after age 40. In fact, more than 90% of men over the age of 80 have enlarged prostates.
Factors linked to aging and changes in the cells of the testicles may have a role in the growth of the gland and the change in testosterone levels as someone gets older.
Can the Prostate Get Too Big?
Although prostate growth is entirely normal, problems can arise if it gets too big. Since the prostate is located right next to the urethra, an enlarged prostate has the potential to squeeze the urethra and cause complications with urinating and sexual function.
When a prostate becomes enlarged enough to cause these issues, it is diagnosed as benign prostatic hyperplasia, otherwise known as BPH.
There are a variety of symptoms and complications that come with a BPH diagnostic, but they are usually related to problems with urination and sexual function.
The most common symptom someone with BPH may experience is urinating properly. This can manifest itself in many ways, but some of the common experiences include:
- A weak stream or a stream that frequently starts and stops
- Frequent, sudden urges to urinate
- Frequent urination
- The inability to empty the bladder completely
- Trouble urinating, even with a full bladder
Other issues come with BPH, such as a urinary tract infection (UTI), so it's best to visit a urologist if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.
Unfortunately, BPH can also affect a person’s sex life. BPH can reduce sex drive and sexual satisfaction, while increasing risk of erectile dysfunction. Unfortunately, erectile dysfunction can also result from some of the drugs used to treat BPH.
Reducing the Risk of BPH
Although BPH is difficult to control, there are a few things you can do to promote a healthy prostate.
Research has shown a link between infrequent ejaculations and an increased risk of prostate complications. In fact, one of the best ways to keep your prostate healthy and functioning is to incorporate regular prostate massages into your life.
Even just one prostate massage a month can drastically reduce your risk of prostate cancer. Additionally, those with a swollen prostate could utilize a prostate massage once a week to help minimize the swelling and improve urinary function and sexual performance.
There are many ways to stimulate your prostate, but a reliable way is to use a vibrating prostate massager, such as our Tomo II and Thor massagers. Stimulating your prostate will not only help boost prostate health, but it will also provide you pleasure at the same time. Win-win!
Research has found that the more a person is physically active, the less they experience BPH symptoms. You don’t need to worry about signing up for cross fit or running a marathon if exercise isn’t your thing; even low-intensity exercise yields benefits, such as walking regularly or swimming some easy laps in the pool.
Regular prostate screenings by a urologist are recommended for anyone with a prostate. These screenings look for prostate problems and aid in prostate cancer early detection.
The American Cancer Society suggests regular prostate cancer screening tests for early detection of potential abnormalities starting at the age of 40 for those with certain risk factors , such as a family history of prostate cancer, or for those of African-American descent.
Otherwise, regular checkups by a urology health care provider to look for signs of prostate cancer or other issues are recommended for American men with average risk starting at the age of 50.
Screenings can include a digital rectal exam (DRE) and a PSA blood test. If the test results hint at a potential issue, you may require further testing, such as a prostate biopsy.
These regular screenings will allow you to make sure your prostate enlargement is not putting you at risk for BPH, and it will enable you to check for tumor growth, which can help you catch prostate cancer in its early stages.
The Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) test checks the amount of PSA (the prostate-specific antigen) within the blood. Higher PSA levels on the PSA test could indicate a problem and may require additional testing.
Nutrition also plays a huge role in maintaining the health of your prostate.
Diets high in meat and dairy products have been linked to higher risks of prostate side effects, so it’s important to keep a balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based, antioxidant-rich foods.
This means prioritizing foods such as:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains
- Beans and legumes
- Alternative plant protein sources
A plant-based diet is naturally high in fiber, which has several benefits. A high-fiber diet works to reduce hormone levels that may be involved in the progression of prostate complications.
Some foods that are high in fiber include:
- Whole grains, such as oats, barley, quinoa
Eating a low-fat diet has many benefits. However, the type of fat that is included in your diet is essential.
Saturated and trans fat may increase your risk of prostate complications, but omega-3 fatty acids may help reduce your risk.
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in many fatty fish, including:
- Lake trout
You can also find omega-3’s in some types of algae, nuts and seeds, and plant oils like olive oil.
If you have an enlarged prostate, there are many ways to help reduce your risk of prostate-related complications like prostatitis, BPH, and prostate cancer. Make sure to maintain a healthy diet, prioritize exercise, and get screened regularly.
Finally, frequent ejaculation and prostate massages can help boost your prostate health.
Not sure which of our award-winning prostate massages is right for you? Take our quiz and discover the best prostate massager for yourself, your partner, or someone special!
Enlarged prostate: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) - Symptoms and causes - Mayo Clinic