If you have seen friends or family members sporting some facial hair, it’s because of No Shave November. The goal of No Shave November or Movember is to raise awareness on prostate cancer and men’s health.
Now for a quick bio lesson: what is the prostate? The prostate is a small gland, about the size of a walnut, which is part of the male reproductive system. It is located below the bladder and in front of the rectum. The job of the prostate is to make semen, which carries sperm from the testicles when ejaculation occurs.
Enlarged prostate (BPH) is a common issue that happens to aging men. Eight out of ten men will develop an enlarged prostate. Many times there is nothing to be concerned about. It is part of the natural aging process for some men. However, about 30% of men will experience physical problems, such as increased urination and urinating difficulties. Although there is no direct effect on sexual functioning, some of the medication associated with BPH is linked to erectile dysfunction.
Prostate cancer affects 1 in 7 men and is one of the most common forms of non-skin cancers. There are really no warning signs for prostate cancer. The symptoms are the same as having an enlarged prostate or having a urinary track infection; frequent urination, difficulty controlling urine, pain while urinating or when ejaculating and/or blood in the urine and semen. If the prostate cancer is advanced one may experience symptoms, such as unexplained weight loss, pain in the lower extremities, fatigue and nausea.
Because prostate cancer is genetic, it is important to talk to your doctor about your risk. You’re at an increased risk of prostate cancer, if your father developed it before the age of 65.
The key to prevention or catching prostate cancer early is going in for a prostate exam. It may be something you have been putting off because it isn’t the most comfortable of appointments, but it’s better to get checked out than to wait until it’s too late.
Starting at the age of 50, men should get a prostate exam once a year. There are two types of prostate exams: the digital rectal exam (DRE) and the PSA (prostate-specific antigen) blood test. Depending on one’s genetic predisposition to prostate cancer either one or both will be conducted; however some doctors choose to administer both exams anyways.
Like all other health afflictions, diet plays a role. Try to eat a balanced diet high in fruits and vegetables and avoid high fat meat and dairy.