Is Sex Good for Prostate Problems?
Is sex good for prostate problems? That’s a question men often wonder about but don’t always verbalize. Sex is generally considered to be healthy for the prostate because the more the prostate is called into service, the more likely toxins are cleared out through ejaculation. Thus sex may reduce the chance of developing prostate cancer or other problems. However, there are other studies that indicate a high level of sexual activity may increase your risk of prostate cancer. So the question remains: is sex good for prostate problems?
Sex and Prostate Health
Experts suggest that in addition to clearing toxins through ejaculation, sex may reduce the development of tiny crystals that are associated with some cancers and enhance the immune system’s response to cancer. Sexual activity also reduces stress and quiets the central nervous system, which may contribute to cancer cell division and growth and overall wellness.
According to a report in JAMA, men who reported having more than 20 ejaculations per month were 33% less likely to develop prostate cancer than those who had fewer ejaculations. The study defined sexual activity as ejaculation from sexual intercourse, masturbation, or during sleep. The researchers evaluated nearly 30,000 health professionals, of whom 1,449 developed prostate cancer. Assuming the men answered the survey questions honestly, the results indicated that an active sex life is not associated with a higher cancer risk in most men. (Leitzmann 2004)
Is Sex Good for Prostate Problems? Prostate Cancer Risk
A University of Nottingham-Medical School study addressed the question, is sex good for prostate problems? Researchers noted that frequent sexual activity (more than 10 encounters per month) bestows a “small” amount of protection against prostate cancer. (Dimitropoulou 2009) The same study also found that men who are sexually active (more than 20 times per month) in their 20s and 30s are more likely to develop prostate cancer, especially if they masturbate often. However, the researchers also found that frequent sexual activity by men in their 40s seemed to have little effect. (Dimitropoulou 2009) The investigators evaluated the sexual practices of more than 431 men who had been diagnosed with prostate cancer before age 60, and 409 cancer-free controls. Among the men with prostate cancer, 34% admitted they had masturbated frequently in their 20s, compared to 24% of controls. The results were similar for men in their 30s. Men with prostate cancer also were more likely to have had an STD than those who were cancer-free.
Some studies have asked, is sex good for prostate problems? and claimed that sexual activity can increase prostate cancer risk because it raises testosterone levels. Although testosterone and other male sex hormones are essential for prostate growth and development, another study reported that there is “little evidentiary support” that higher testosterone levels are a risk factor for prostate cancer. (Imamoto 2009) In fact, some research describes a link between lower testosterone levels and more advanced prostate disease. (See “Testosterone and Prostate Cancer”)
More research is needed to answer the question, is sex good for prostate problems? as the results are mixed. Neither of the main studies should influence whether you choose to have more or less sex. Even the head of the University of Nottingham study, Dr. Polyxeni Dimitropoulou, said that “Until the mechanisms are elucidated and are clearly established we cannot be certain about the outcome of any study.”
Is Sex Good for Prostate Problems? Other Benefits of Sex
Sex is important for prostate health in a number of other ways. Apart from the potential decrease in risk of prostate cancer, sex helps to maintain erectile function and healthy penile tissue, which is important for long-term recovery after prostate cancer treatment. Lack of frequent sex can also result in penile shortening in the absence of consistent nocturnal erections which may contribute to self-esteem issues and erectile dysfunction.
Sex can influence prostate health in other ways. For example, bacterial prostatitis can be caused by the transfer of bacteria between sexual partners in unprotected sex. Lower urinary tract infections may also be influenced by sexual activity and the transfer of infections that migrate to the prostate through the urethra.
Is Sex Good for Prostate Problems? STDs and Prostatitis
Sometimes a cause of prostatitis is a sexually transmitted disease (STD), such as herpes, Chlamydia, gonorrhea, trichomoniasis, or Ureaplasma urealyticum. Sexually active men who have multiple sex partners are at an increased risk of STDs and prostatitis, especially if they do not use a condom. Also at high risk are men who engage in anal sex without using a condom. Acute prostatitis associated with STDs is typically seen in men younger than age 35.
A possible association between prostatitis, STDs, and prostate cancer has been researched. A study involving the California Men’s Health Study investigated this relationship among 68,675 men. They found that having an STD was not associated with overall risk of prostate cancer, but the results did “suggest that prostatitis and STDs may be involved in prostate cancer susceptibility.” (Cheng 2010) It’s important to note, however, that these findings do not prove prostatitis causes prostate cancer, because it may be that men with prostatitis symptoms are more likely to go to a doctor and then are tested for prostate cancer.
Is sex good for prostate problems like prostatitis? If you have an STD, you should definitely avoid sex until you see your doctor and are treated for the infection. If your prostatitis is not associated with an STD, it’s generally safe to have sex. Overall, regular safe sexual activity seems to be healthy for the prostate and for prostatitis. If you are receiving treatment for prostatitis with antibiotics, it is recommended that you ejaculate two to three times a week.
Some men experience pain during or after ejaculation that interferes with sexual enjoyment until they get prostatitis symptoms under control. If this happens to you, communicate openly with your partner to find ways to have sexual activity that is mutually satisfying. If you involve your partner in your prostatitis treatment program, sexual challenges can be easier to handle.