The prostate gland is only found in males, and is part of the reproductive system. It looks similar to a walnut and is located just under the bladder, encircling part of the urethra and vas deferens. It plays a key role in the muscles, nerves, and blood vessels of the pelvis, affecting both elimination and reproduction, so it is regarded as a barometer of physical health for men.
However, disease or disorder of the prostate is very common, with approximately half of all men experiencing it at least once in their lifetime. It is related to various factors such as age and hormone levels, with prognoses tending to worsen as men get older. Incidence rates are: 50% of men in their fifties, 60% in their sixties, and 70% in their seventies. The cause of prostate problems is not yet clear and treating them is not easy, so they can affect one’s quality of life greatly.
Prostatic hyperplasia refers to the enlargement of the prostate. It then compresses the urethra resulting in urinary disorders such as weak stream, frequent urination, nighttime urination, the sensation of incomplete emptying, and dull pain on urination. If hyperplasia continues it may lead to prostate inflammation (prostatitis). Typical symptoms are pain (prickly, or sharp and stabbing), discomfort, and heaviness, and these may occur in the lower abdomen, the perineum, and sometimes in the penis, testes, lumbar region, or thigh. Pain may appear abruptly and disappear just as suddenly, but discomfort, stiffness, dull pain or urinary difficulties can last for a few weeks or even months.
Hyperplasia and prostatitis, if severe, can result in urinary retention due to frequent obstruction, bladder dysfunction, uremia, chronic renal (kidney) failure, sexual dysfunction, sleep deprivation, depression, and more.
In Eastern medicine there is no disease name which corresponds to the Western term, but from a symptomatic point of view prostate disorders are called a urinary dysfunction, or Lin syndrome. The cause of prostate disorders is not seen solely as a problem in the urogenital system but as an imbalance in the whole body, possibly a disorder of 5 yin organs and 6 yang organs, or a general imbalance of Yin and Yang or of qi and blood. This is the same approach as with other diseases.
To be more specific, a kidney Yang deficiency or a kidney Yin impairment can be seen in older men, while damp heat or blood stasis in the bladder can be seen in younger men. Treatment is different in each case. Generally speaking, it is not easy to treat the root cause of this disease, and treatment for prostate disorders does take more time. However, the advantage of Eastern medical treatment is the high expectation for long term effectiveness, low rate of recurrence, and many fewer side effects due to the strengthening of the immune system. It is done by clearing heat, removing dampness, detoxification, tonifying kidney and spleen, strengthening qi, and getting rid of bacteria and inflammation. Both herbal medicine and acupuncture should be used.