The prostate is an exocrine gland of the male reproductive system. Its main function is to store and secrete a clear, slightly basic fluid that constitutes up to one-third of the volume of semen. A healthy human prostate is slightly larger than a walnut and surrounds the urethra just below the urinary bladder. The most common disorders of the prostate are benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostatitis. 


Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), also known as benign prostatic hypertrophy, is associated with ageing and is estimated to affect 70% of men aged ≥70 years.


An enlarged prostate causes obstruction of urinary flow and can result in serious medical complications, including acute urinary retention (which can lead to renal failure), recurrent urinary tract infection, bladder calculi and haematuria.


Dihydro-testosterone (DHT), a metabolite of testosterone, is a critical mediator of prostatic growth. DHT is synthesised in the prostate from circulating testosterone by the action of the enzyme5α-reductase, providing a target for medical and holistic treatments.


Whilst total androgen levels may not be abnormal in BPH patients, the androgen-to-oestrogen ratio potentially upsets the balance of factors that regulate growth in the prostate.


Prostatitis is an inflammatory disorder of the prostate. Prostatitis can be idiopathic (i.e., nonbacterial prostatitis), or bacterial (i.e., caused by enteric gram-negative bacilli). It commonly causes pain in the testicles and may sometimes cause problems with ejaculation, urination, or defaecation.


Signs and Symptoms


Common signs and symptoms of BPH/prostatitis include:


Recurrent urinary tract infections


Difficulty starting urine stream


Decreased strength and force of the stream


Dribbling after urination


Urinary frequency, urgency and dysuria (painful urination)




Incomplete bladder emptying


Fever with chills


Generalised malaise


Bladder outlet obstruction, complete inability to urinate


Painful ejaculation, bloody semen, or sexual dysfunction


Pain localised to lower back (sacral), pelvis, or perineum


Blood in the urine, caused by bursting of small veins in the urethra and bladder.