To help preserve and maintain prostate health, men are encouraged to get a PSA test (prostate specific antigen). A PSA test is just one tool men can choose to help them check up on their prostate health. Although the PSA test can be very helpful, it is not a perfect test. Currently, the medical community has not reached a consensus on which PSA levels are “safe,” “suspicious,” or “dangerous.” Even though different experts and reputable organizations, including the American Cancer Society, the American Urological Society, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and the US Preventive Services Task Force, all have slightly different recommendations as to when men should undergo PSA testing, they all agree on one thing: men need to have their prostate checked regularly, especially if there is any personal or family history of prostate problems. Exactly when a man should have his first PSA test and how often thereafter is a topic each man needs to discuss with his healthcare provider.
That said, there are some things a man should not do before having a PSA test. This list of “don’ts” will help ensure your test results are as accurate as possible.
- Participate in vigorous exercise and activities that stimulate or “jostle” the prostate, such as bike riding, motorcycling, and riding a horse, ATV, or tractor, or getting a prostatic massage for 48 hours before your test.
- Participate in sexual activity that involves ejaculation for 48 hours before your test. Ejaculation within this time frame may affect PSA results, especially in younger men.
- Schedule your PSA test to be done for at least six weeks after undergoing any of the following procedures: prostate biopsy, transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP), urethral catheter, cystoscopy, or any other procedure that involves the prostate. If you are in doubt about the possible impact of any procedure on your PSA test, talk to your doctor.
- Schedule a PSA test if you have a urinary tract infection. A bacterial infection in the urinary tract can cause PSA levels to rise temporarily. If you are not sure if you have a urinary tract infection, have a urine test before your PSA test to make sure. If you do have a urinary tract infection, you should wait at least six weeks after you have completed your antibiotic treatment before you have your PSA test.
- Schedule a digital rectal examination (DRE) before your PSA test. Although a DRE should not have an impact on PSA levels, having the PSA test first is a precaution.
Don’t forget to tell your doctor:
- If you undergoing chemotherapy, as these drugs can cause an elevated PSA level
- If you are taking any medications, especially aspirin, statins, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or medications that control urinary problems such as dustasteride or finasteride. All of these substances have the potential to affect PSA levels.
- If you are taking any supplements. Some sports and nutritional supplements, such as carnitine, fenugreek, pomegranate, and tribulus terrestris, can cause testosterone levels to rise.
- If you have undergone urinary tract or prostate surgery recently, or if you have suffered a pelvic injury or sports injury.
- If you have prostatitis or BPH.