The Ultimate Guide to Prostate Health: Everything You Need to Know

Written by: Christine VanDoren, nutritionist

Fact checked by: SaVanna Shoemaker, MS, RDN, LD

doctor showing the prostate on a model

Prostate health refers to the proper functioning and overall well-being of the prostate. In other words, prostate health depends on the state or condition of the walnut-sized gland that plays a vital role in men's reproductive health.

This gland is nestled right below the bladder, and it surrounds the first part of the urethra. The prostate is important as it aids in producing prostatic fluid, which nourishes and enhances sperm transport. It also helps to regulate urinal flow and contributes to hormonal metabolism.

In this guide, we will explore key facts about the prostate and tips to help you prevent common prostate problems. We will also delve into the area of diagnosis and treatment of prostate problems and the techniques you can employ to manage them. It is time to dive in.

Understanding the Prostate

Anatomy and Function of the Prostate

The prostate is a round fibromuscular gland found only in men, consisting of smooth muscle fibers, glandular tissue, and numerous small ducts. It is around the size of a walnut and weighs between 20 to 30 grams. This gland is covered by a fibrous capsule, which is elastic.

Based on its anatomical features, the prostate has five different lobes — the anterior, median, right and left lateral, and posterior lobes. These lobes are separated from one another by the ejaculatory duct and urethra, which pass through the organ. The prostate is made up of three zones, namely the central, transitional, and peripheral zones. Each of them is composed of unique structures that one can identify microscopically. 

The prostate lies inferiorly to the bladder and surrounds the urethra — a tubular structure that allows for the passage of urine and semen to the external body. It is positioned in front of the rectum, allowing for easy access during medical examinations such as the digital rectal exam commonly used in assessing prostate health.

The prostate has several functions, contributing to male health and wellness. These functions are as follows:

  • Prostatic Fluid Production: The function of the prostate is the production of prostatic fluid, which forms part of the semen. The prostatic fluid contains citric acid, zinc, phosphate, calcium, and enzymes that are vital for healthy sperm. During ejaculation, the semen mixes with the prostatic fluid while passing through the ejaculatory duct.
  • Hormonal Influence: Within the prostate, an enzyme known as 5-alpha reductase operates to convert testosterone into a biologically active form referred to as dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT holds significance in ensuring the normal development and proper functioning of the prostate.
  • Urethral Surrounding: The strategic positioning of the prostate around the urethra allows the muscular tissue of the prostate to assist in the forceful expulsion of semen during ejaculation. 
  • Sphincteric Function: The smooth muscle of the prostate plays a role as a sphincter, contributing to the closure of the urethra. This helps to prevent the accidental passage of urine during the reproductive process. 
  • Immunological Role: Apart from its reproductive role, the prostate promotes immune defenses. Due to its position below the bladder, it acts as a physical barrier against environmental threats entering the bladder. The prostate is also infiltrated with immune cells that enhance immunity. 

Common Problems Associated with Prostate Size

Like many other structures in the body, the prostate also has some problems. They are more common in men who are 50 years old and above

As men age, hormonal fluctuations, especially with testosterone, lead to the growth of the prostate. This causes symptoms such as frequent urination and difficulty in initiating or maintaining urination.

Prevention of Prostate Problems

Healthy Lifelong Habits

The first strategy for maintaining prostate health is engaging in a healthy lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle ensures that you avoid some modifiable predisposing factors such as smoking, unhealthy diet, and obesity. Engaging in healthy lifelong habits is necessary, especially for older men or those with a family history of prostate problems.

Some healthy lifelong habits you can incorporate to help you promote a healthy prostate include the following.

Embracing a Mediterranean Diet:

The Mediterranean diet is a meal plan that follows the dietary pattern of cultures in the Mediterranean region, such as Greece, Italy, and Spain. This diet is known for its health benefits, as evidenced by numerous scientific studies.

The Mediterranean diet involves consuming plenty of vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains as part of the everyday meal. Olive oil is the primary source of fat in this dietary pattern as it provides monounsaturated fat that supports heart health. It also includes fish like mackerel and salmon, offering omega-3 fatty acids.

Although red meat is discouraged in Mediterranean diets, you can eat chicken in small amounts. You can also consume dairy products like cheese and yogurt in small quantities. A 2017 study showed that the Mediterranean diet plays a protective role by supplying the body with key nutrients, antioxidants, and flavonoids that help promote a healthy prostate. 

Engaging in Physical Exercise

Engaging in physical activities is a proactive and effective step toward ensuring good prostate health. Generally, exercise is known for its benefits to heart health; it contributes to maintaining prostate health.  

A study revealed that men who were more engaged in physical exercise had higher chances of maintaining a healthy prostate size. Another study revealed that men who regularly engaged in aerobic exercise had less prostate discomfort and felt better mentally. They also reported an improved quality of life. 

To enjoy the benefits of physical activity, you can commit to daily exercising for at least 30 minutes. You could also seek the advice or assistance of your physician or fitness coach.

Stress Management

Findings from a 2016 study show that there is a significant relationship between prostate problems and stress. Being in a stressed state leads to an increase in the level of stress hormones and impedes the proper functioning of the immune cells.

Managing stress could involve the use of meditation techniques, emotional therapy, group therapy, yoga, and spending time with loved ones to achieve calmness and lower stress levels. 

Moreover, you should identify sources of stress in your life and avoid them. You can seek the assistance of a therapist to help you navigate periods of stress.

Screening and Early Detection Strategies

Screening and early detection help in dealing with issues related to the prostate, offering an approach to managing and reducing potential health risks. When common prostate problems are identified early through targeted screening strategies, you can manage them effectively. These strategies include the following:

Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) Testing

The PSA blood test is commonly used as a screening tool for prostate problems. PSA is a protein produced by the prostate, and elevated levels may indicate problems with the prostate. It is recommended that men aged 50 and above undergo PSA testing, as well as those with higher risk factors due to family history or other factors.

Digital Rectal Examination (DRE)

In addition to PSA testing, healthcare providers often perform a DRE. During this examination, the healthcare provider examines the size, shape, and texture of the prostate by inserting a finger lubricated with gel into the rectum. This physical examination helps identify any abnormalities like lumps or areas of hardness that may require investigation.

Imaging Studies

Some imaging studies may be employed to evaluate the prostate. Moreover, ultrasound technology is also utilized to generate representations of the prostate gland, offering information about its composition. These images provide levels of detail, enabling healthcare professionals to identify and locate prostate problems.

Assessing Risks and Considering Family History

To ensure effective screenings, it is important to consider an individual's risk factors and family background. Men who have a family history of prostate problems may be advised to initiate screenings at an early age, while those with risk factors might require more frequent evaluations. 

Screening and early detection help you take action quickly and offer many options to manage any common prostate problem, such as lifestyle or habit modification or using medication as prescribed by your doctor. Early detection gives you the power to make smart choices about your prostate health and might stop prostate issues from getting worse in later stages.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Prostate Issues

Available Diagnosis Methods

If your doctor discovers any abnormality after any screening procedure, they may refer you to take further tests to identify any problems and confirm the diagnosis for prompt treatment. The available diagnostic methods include the following:

Medical History and Physical Examination

Your doctor will take time to get your medical history. This is to check for certain causative or risk factors linked to common prostate problems. They will also assess your symptoms and conduct a physical examination, including the DRE. Apart from being a screening method, DRE can also help your doctor in making a diagnosis.

Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA)

The PSA test is done by checking for PSA levels in your blood. It is used in the treatment and management of men who are already diagnosed with a prostate problem. It helps to determine the stage and also shows the effectiveness of the intervention.

Prostate Health Index

This is an FDA-approved test using the PSA score in a mathematical formula to assess prostate health. It gives more accurate insight into the risk in a person.

They will also use a pain-numbing medication to stop the procedure from being painful. A sample will be taken to a lab for assessment after it ends. Assessing the lymph nodes (or tissues containing white blood cells) may also be done in some cases. 

Imaging Studies

Some advanced imaging studies may be needed to make a diagnosis of a prostate problem. Advanced imaging studies, such as transrectal ultrasound (TRUS) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), may be utilized for a more detailed assessment of the prostate. 

TRUS involves using sound waves to create images of the prostate, providing insights into its structure and potential abnormalities. Meanwhile, MRI offers high-resolution images that aid in the detection and localization of prostate concerns.  

Other imaging studies that can be used to make a diagnosis of a prostate are a Computed Tomography (CT) scan and a Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan.

Common Treatments for Prostate Problems

The type of treatment used for prostate problems varies depending on the condition. You can employ different treatment regimens, including medical and surgical interventions and lifestyle modification.

  • Medical Intervention: Through drug research and development, medications such as alpha-blockers and 5-alpha reductase inhibitors have been discovered to help treat prostate problems. Then medications, like alpha-blockers or 5-alpha reductase inhibitors, can help alleviate symptoms.
  • Surgical Intervention: For people with prostate problems, the required therapy may involve surgery. Your doctor will let you know if this is the best treatment option. An example of a surgical procedure is the transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP). Laser surgery may also be considered. Therapeutic options such as radiation therapy, hormone therapy, or chemotherapy can also be used in addition to surgery, especially for more aggressive cases. 
  • Alternative Interventions: The use of alternative medicine or herbs with scientific evidence of efficacy in prostate health is another option. A 2017 study showed that Croton membranaceus plays a role in relieving lower urinary tract symptoms, which are common in prostate problems. 

Other herbs shown through research to contribute to prostate health include Serenoa repens, Urtica dioica, Cucurbita pepo, lycopene, Pygeum africanum, and Linum usitatissimum. However, ensure you seek your doctor's advice before using any herbal remedies.

Techniques for Managing Prostate Health

Lifestyle Changes for a Healthier Prostate

A 2022 study on a Japanese population reveals that healthy lifestyle changes can promote a healthier prostate. You can optimize your prostate health by making certain lifestyle changes, such as the following:

  • Quitting Smoking: Cigarette smoking may raise your chance of developing prostate problems by exposing you to carcinogens or altering circulating hormone levels. Research indicates that nonsmokers have better outcomes when dealing with prostate concerns. 
  • Lowering Alcohol Consumption: Chronic alcohol consumption is associated with a significant decrease in prostate health. By reducing the amount of alcohol you consume, you lessen the risk of prostate problems.
  • Consuming a Healthy Diet: A healthy diet is important in maintaining the health of every organ in the body. As mentioned earlier, the recommended dietary pattern is the Mediterranean diet, which encourages the intake of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and fish such as salmon. However, if you are unsure about what to eat or the required portions, consider getting your dietician's opinion.
  • Exercising Frequently: Physical exercise helps to keep the body fit and contributes to prostate health. Besides aerobic exercises that boost circulation, studies show that pelvic floor muscle training has been used to alleviate symptoms associated with common prostate problems.
  • Managing Stress Properly: Stress releases hormones into the blood. In high amounts, they can impact immune functions and predispose the prostate to some unhealthy states.

The Role of Diet & Exercise in Prostate Health

The interaction between proper diet and exercise can play a vital role in maintaining a healthy prostate, providing an avenue for early prevention of common prostate problems.

A balanced diet rich in fruits, leafy vegetables, and whole grains offers essential nutrients, antioxidants, as well as phytochemicals that promote good health, including prostate wellness. 

In addition, eating lycopene-rich foods such as tomatoes and fish containing omega-3 fatty acids can have particular advantages on prostate health.

Regular physical activity is equally important. Aerobic exercises like brisk walking, jogging, or cycling help especially with weight management and hormonal equilibrium. It is essential to maintain a healthy body weight to reduce the incidence of common prostate problems.

Ultimately, leading a prostate-friendly lifestyle through conscious dietary practices and regular physical activity benefits overall well-being and helps prevent everyday issues with the prostate. 

These habits form part of a wider pledge to well-being by empowering you to take control over your health and minimize the possibility of complications linked with prostate problems.


Looking out for your prostate is essential for your well-being, especially if you are part of the older demographic. In this piece, we have explored the anatomy and functions of this walnut-sized gland to help you understand how it works. 

We have also looked at the problems associated with the prostate and how you can prevent them with a focus on healthy lifelong habits and regular screening to ensure early detection. If you discover any abnormality during screening, the diagnosis will be made using a diagnostic method, and treatment will commence depending on the type of problem involved.

The path to health and wellness, including prostate health, is paved with the practice of healthy habits such as eating nutritious meals and exercising often. Hence, avoid unhealthy habits such as smoking and chronic alcohol intake. Also, embrace healthy techniques to lower stress levels. 

Remember to consult with a healthcare provider or your doctor if you notice anything unusual with your prostate or health in general, and adhere to screening schedules to future enhance the effectiveness of any treatment you may be on.


  1. Andersen, Martin Færch et al. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health vol. 19,2 972. 15 Jan. 2022, doi:10.3390/ijerph19020972
  2. Baumann, Freerk T et al. Disability and Rehabilitation vol. 44,19 (2022): 5374-5385. doi:10.1080/09638288.2021.1937717
  3. Capurso, Cristiano, and Gianluigi Vendemiale. Frontiers in Nutrition vol. 4 38. 24 Aug. 2017, doi:10.3389/fnut.2017.00038
  4. Foerster, Beat et al. JAMA Oncology vol. 4,7 (2018): 953-961. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2018.1071
  5. Jan, Michael et al. Scandinavian Journal of Urology vol. 50,1 (2016): 47-55. doi:10.3109/21681805.2015.1079796
  6. Kyei, Mathew Y et al. Ghana Medical Journal vol. 51,3 (2017): 128-137. doi:10.4314/gmj.v51i3.6
  7. Leisegang, Kristian et al. Phytomedicine Plus vol. 2,1 (2022). doi:10.1016/j.phyplu.2021.100153
  8. Leslie, Stephen W., et al. StatPearls, StatPearls Publishing, 13 November 2023.
  9. Macke, Amanda J, and Armen Petrosyan. Biomolecules vol. 12,3 375. 28 Feb. 2022, doi:10.3390/biom12030375
  10. Nagakura, Yukinori et al. Prostate International vol. 10,4 (2022): 200-206. doi:10.1016/j.prnil.2022.06.004
  11. Reimer, Nadine et al. ” The Journal of Sexual Medicine vol. 18,11 (2021): 1899-1914. doi:10.1016/j.jsxm.2021.09.001
  12. Silva, Juliete A F et al. Scientific Reports vol. 7,1 16488. 28 Nov. 2017, doi:10.1038/s41598-017-16717-3
  13. Singh, Omesh. and Srinivasa Rao Bolla. StatPearls, StatPearls Publishing, 17 July 2023.
  14. Sung, Hyuna et al. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians vol. 71,3 (2021): 209-249. doi:10.3322/caac.21660
  15. Zuniga, Kyle B et al. Urologic Oncology vol. 38,3 (2020): 105-117. doi:10.1016/j.urolonc.2019.06.018