A Guide to Prostate Massage

Prostatic massage, also known simply as prostate message, is a procedure in which a finger is inserted into the rectum to stimulate the prostate gland. The goal is to release excess seminal fluid (the fluid that mixes with sperm to create semen) from the ducts of the prostate gland. Alternative medical practitioners claim that doing so can ease prostate inflammation while alleviating pressure on the adjacent urinary tract.

 

Among the conditions prostate massage is said to treat are:

 

Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) (enlarged prostate)

Prostatitis (prostate inflammation)

Urinary hesitancy (difficulty urinating)

Erectile dysfunction

Prostate massage is also used for sexual stimulation to help achieve arousal, enhance an erection, or relax the rectum in advance of anal sex.

 

About the Prostate

 

The prostate gland is about the size and shape of a walnut, located between the bladder and the root of the penis. The urethra (through which urine and semen leave the body) runs through the center of the prostate.

 

As a man ages, the prostate tends to grow. In men in their 60s, 70s, and beyond, the prostate can reach the size of a plum or even larger. As it does so, it can constrict the urethra, causing urinary symptoms of BPH such as:

 

Frequent need to urinate

Increased frequency of urination at night

Difficulty starting urination

Weak urine stream

Dribbling at the end of urination

Inability to completely empty the bladder

 

In some cases, BPH can lead to incontinence, sexual dysfunction, prostatitis, bladder stones, cystitis (bladder infection), and reduced kidney function. It is not a risk factor for prostate cancer, however.

 

Possible Benefits

Few qualitative studies have shown any therapeutic benefit from the manual stimulation of the prostate. One study published in the journal Open Urology and Nephrology reported 115 men with BPH experienced an improvement in symptoms after using a proprietary prostate massage device.

 

Despite the conclusion, the significance of the findings was limited by the lack of a control group or medical tests or exams of any kind. The researchers instead relied on subjective questionnaires filled out by the participants.

 

Side Effects and Risks

The tissues lining the prostate and rectum are delicate and vulnerable to cuts, tears, and abrasions. Massaging the prostate too vigorously can easily lead to soreness. In the study described above, for example, 8.3% of participants reported post-prostate massage discomfort.

 

Rectal bleeding also can result from overly aggressive prostate massage, creating the risk of a bacterial infection or aggravating hemorrhoids.

 

Furthermore, manual prostate massage is discouraged for men with acute bacterial prostatitis as it not only increases inflammation but may promote the spread of bacteria to the urethra and other parts of the urinary tract and into the bloodstream.

 

That said, a few small studies of the effects of prostate massage performed by a physician on chronic prostatitis have shown it to be beneficial when paired with antibiotics.

 

Prostate Massage and Cancer

Men suspected of having prostate cancer should not be treated with (or engage in) prostate massage as this may dislodge tumor cells and inadvertently promote the spread of cancer to nearby tissues.

 

That said, there’s some evidence prostate massage prior to certain tests for prostate cancer may increase the sensitivity of the test, making it more likely cancer will be detected. However, a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test should not be conducted immediately after a prostate massage as this could lead to falsely elevated results.

 

Even if cancer is not an issue, care needs to be taken to avoid injuring the prostate. The thin, pliable membrane covering the prostate, the prostatic plexus, is rich in nerves that service the sponge-like corpora cavernosa of the penis.

 

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