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Can Stress Cause An Enlarged Prostate – What You Need To Know

Stress is a normal part of life, triggered by a variety of different situations and life events. Stress in the workplace, for example, tops the leaderboard, with a whopping 80% of U.S. workers saying they experience stress on the job. Stress can cause your body to react in a variety of ways from headaches and indigestion to heart palpitations. But can the condition lead to prostate problems such as an enlarged prostate or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)? This blog post answers the question and discusses the role of stress with BPH.

Can stress cause an enlarged prostate?

The short answer is no, but the longer answer is that stress can worsen the symptoms of BPH.

Before we go any further with the association between stress and BPH let us give you more information about an enlarged prostate or BPH.

What is BPH exactly?

BPH or an enlarged prostate means that the prostate gland has grown bigger than normal and is pinching or pressing the urethra, causing urinary problems. It’s the most common prostate problem in men with around 50% of men between the ages of 50 and 60 affected by the condition. This figure rises to 70% in men aged 61 to 69 and 80% in men over 70 and above.  

Not everyone with BPH experiences bothersome problems but many others find their quality of life can be significantly affected.

One of the most common signs of BPH is needing to urinate more frequently, particularly during the night. Depending on the severity of their condition, a man may need to pee as often as every one to two hours. Other symptoms include feeling like you haven’t emptied your bladder completely, leaking, or the sensation of frequently or urgently needing to urinate.

This latter symptom, in particular, can elevate a man’s stress levels as a frequent need to visit the bathroom not only interrupts their days but can cause disruption at work and interfere with socializing.

So can stress cause an enlarged prostate? No, but it does play a part in an enlarged prostate.

What is the role of stress in BPH?

Stress and BPH are closely interlinked. A recent study revealed that the more anxious men became, the worse their BPH symptoms got. And, on the flip side, as their BPH symptoms worsened, the more their stress levels increased – creating a kind of never-ending cycle.

But how exactly is stress related to an enlarged prostate and what should you know about the relationship?

  1. Stress can affect the hormones that trigger BHP

Stress can impact hormones that play a role in triggering the enlargement of the prostate. When the body is under stress, it releases higher amounts of the cortisol hormone. In men, cortisol has the effect of suppressing crucial hormones like testosterone.

As the testosterone levels decrease, there is a corresponding increase in estrogen levels. This elevated estrogen indirectly stimulates the growth of prostate cells, leading to the condition of an enlarged prostate.

Additionally, stress accelerates the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Accumulation of an elevated level of DHT in the prostate prompts rapid cell growth and development.

While a low level of DHT might not directly cause prostate enlargement, prolonged and intense stress can result in an exceedingly high level of DHT, eventually contributing to the enlargement of the prostate.

Significantly, DHT is a central hormone responsible for prostate growth during puberty and young adulthood. Consequently, heightened levels of DHT due to stress become a critical factor in the enlargement of the prostate.

  1. Stress stimulates the release of adrenaline

In times of stress, the body enters a 'fight or flight' mode, leading to heightened adrenaline release. This surge in adrenaline prompts the contraction of the muscles in the prostate and bladder, causing the urethra to narrow, resulting in increased difficulty and pain during urination.

Moreover, the released adrenaline may induce a kind of 'shutdown' in the bladder, exacerbating urinary symptoms.

For individuals with an already enlarged prostate, stress proves detrimental. It amplifies the presence of adrenaline in the body, adversely affecting both the bladder and prostate, thereby worsening symptoms associated with BPH.

  1. Stress decreases zinc

Prolonged stress typically leads to a significant reduction in body zinc levels. Zinc plays a crucial role in regulating the expansion rate of the prostate gland, with the prostate containing more zinc than any other human tissue.

When prolonged stress causes a zinc deficiency, the prostate gland undergoes rapid enlargement, resulting in an enlarged prostate. This enlargement can worsen the symptoms of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)

To mitigate this effect, managing stress and incorporating zinc-rich foods into your diet, such as pumpkin seeds, can help increase your body's zinc levels. This, in turn, can prevent the rapid growth of the prostate and alleviate symptoms associated with BPH.

  1. Stress elevates the tension in the muscles of the pelvic floor

Finally, stress heightens tension in the pelvic floor muscles. This increased tension causes a tightening of these muscles, leading to a narrowing of the urethra.

Consequently, this narrowing makes the flow of urine more challenging. Therefore, if you already suffer from an enlarged prostate, your symptoms are exacerbated.

Conclusion

Hopefully, this article has answered the question “Can stress cause an enlarged prostate?”

While stress isn’t a direct cause of an enlarged prostate it is closely related to BPH which is why it’s vital to manage your stress levels, particularly as you get older.

For those experiencing severe symptoms of an enlarged prostate, why not schedule a consultation with the experienced team at MINT? We provide prostate artery embolization (PAE) - a minimally invasive treatment for an enlarged prostate that will help you start to enjoy life once more.

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