We all know that stress is bad for us. It can cause all sorts of problems, both physical and mental. But did you know that stress can also have a negative impact on our prostate health? In this blog post, we will discuss the link between stress and prostate health, as well as what you can do to reduce the amount of stress in your life.
What happens to the body when stressed?
When we experience stress, our bodies go into fight-or-flight mode. This is a survival mechanism that dates back to our days as hunter-gatherers. When faced with a threat, our bodies would release a burst of energy so that we could either run away or fight the danger. This response is mediated by the release of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol.
While this stress response is beneficial in short-term situations, it can be detrimental if it becomes chronic. When our bodies are constantly in fight-or-flight mode, it takes a toll on our physical and mental health. Chronic stress has been linked to a variety of health problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, and anxiety.
Stress and the Prostate
So, what does this have to do with the prostate?
The prostate is a small gland that sits underneath the bladder. It produces some of the fluid that makes up semen. The prostate also helps to control urination by squeezing the urethra (the tube that urine flows through).
The prostate is susceptible to a number of problems, including enlargement (benign prostatic hyperplasia) and cancer. While there are many factors that can contribute to these conditions, recent research has suggested that stress may play a role.
One study, completed in 2005, evaluated 83 men who had an average age of 68. As part of the study, each man completed urologic evaluations and questionnaires regarding stress levels. This study found that men with higher levels of recent stress reported difficulty emptying their bladder, which indicates larger prostate size and more severe BPH.
Another study, completed in 2007, looked at the same 83 men. However, this time they study compared measurements of prostate size and function with stress indicators. The findings suggested that men under high levels of stress also reported the most severe BPH symptoms.
What is the Connection?
Although researchers do not know the exact mechanism linking stress to prostate problems, there are a few theories. One possibility is that chronic stress can cause long-term changes in the hypothalamic-pituitary-testicular connection. Simply stated, the part of the brain responsible for producing testosterone can be affected. When this happens, this can cause the prostate to grow and exacerbate symptoms.
Another possibility is that stress hormones like adrenaline can directly impact the prostate. This is because the prostate gland and bladder both contain receptors that respond to adrenaline by contracting smooth muscle cells. Unfortunately, this narrows the urethra and slows the flow of urine.
In this blog post, we have discussed the link between stress and prostate health. We have also looked at what happens to the body when it experiences stress. If you are concerned about your prostate health, it is important to talk to your doctor. They will be able to evaluate your symptoms and recommend the best treatment options for you. Additionally, there are a few things that you can do to reduce stress in your life, including exercise, relaxation techniques, and journaling. If you are struggling to cope with stress, please reach out to a mental health professional for help.
Ullrich PM, Lutgendorf SK, Kreder KJ. Physiologic Reactivity to a Laboratory Stress Task Among Men with Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia. Urology 2007;70:487–91. PMID: 17905102.
Ullrich PM, Lutgendorf SK, Leserman J, et al. Stress, Hostility, and Disease Parameters of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia. Psychosomatic Medicine 2005;67:476–82. PMID: 15911913.