Prostate Awareness

Blog post, November 11 2016

One result of the e-coli infection that I had a couple of months ago was that I became more aware of my prostate gland. The doctor I saw for the follow-up appointment a fortnight after my couple of days in hospital checked my prostate (the ‘finger test’), and reported it to be enlarged. The general opinion seems to be that this is normal for a man of my age, though it seemed odd that the resulting symptoms had got quite severe very quickly, and that this had coincided with a serious urinary tract infection.

I checked online, and discovered that ‘prostatitis’ can often result from an infection such as that – in other words the infection can spread to the prostate (as well as other delicate parts) and it gets swollen, not merely enlarged. The result – either way – is that urinating happens more frequently but with difficulty. There is pressure on the bladder and particularly on the urethra – the tube that we pee down.

Sorry if all this is too much information – but I have come to the conclusion that this really worth knowing about. Ignorance is not bliss; it just means that we don’t know what is happening to our bodies, and the conventional ‘treatment’ for an enlarged prostate can be quite brutal.

What is the prostate though? Every man has got one, but few of us seem to know where it is, what it is, or what it does. It’s just this ‘thing’ that generally causes problems as we get older. Anything short of prostate cancer is seen as a positive result.

With the help of a little bit of research I can give at least short answers to these three basic questions. In the diagram (above) you can see it just below the bladder, with two tubes joining up in the middle of it; one coming from the bladder, one from the testes. It’s apparently quite a squidgey sort of thing, about the size of a walnut; but in later life tends to get harder and larger, and can become more like the size of a lemon – this is apparently related to testosterone levels dropping off. As for what it does: it makes prostatic fluid, which by volume is more than 50% of sperm; without it, the human race would not reproduce.

In search of more information than that I went to a talk by Barry Spendlove, a taoist health practitioner. He pointed out that men are usually very much aware of their penis and their testicles, though not the prostate; just as women are very much aware of their vagina and their breasts, but not the uterus. He described the prostate and the uterus as the true centres of the sexual system; it’s these hidden dark corners that require attention, and attention in itself can help with their health. He also gave us some interesting breathing exercises which can also help, as well as putting it in the overall context of the body and its myriad functions.

I have also been visiting a medical herbalist, and his medicine seems to help too – certainly I am ‘back to normal’ in only two months rather than three. And no doubt there will be more to say on this subject – putting my attention there does tend to lead to conversations that I wouldn’t have had before, and to information appearing where I may not have noticed it before. We shall see.