Ask the Doc: Does masturbation improve prostate health?

Question

Does masturbation improve prostate health?

Answer

There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that masturbation might be good for your prostate, even though there’s no absolute proof.

If someone asked you how many times you ejaculate each week, how accurate do you think your answer would be? Imagine you’re 60 years old and someone asked you how often you ejaculated each month when you were in your 20s and your 40s. It’s evidence from studies like these that we rely on to work out whether masturbation might affect your prostate health.

The number of ejaculations you have each week or each month might not have anything to do with masturbation, because maybe you only ejaculate during sexual activity with your partner or lots of partners. Is the effect of ejaculation alone the same as that of ejaculation with someone else? It might not be, because sexually transmitted infections (STIs) you might get from partners can affect your prostate health.

Prostate problems are rare in young men but become common with old age. Which ejaculations matter? The ones in your 20s, your 50s, your entire life, or only those in the past year?

Researchers have tried to answer all these questions.

In general, it seems that the more often you ejaculate, the lower your risk of prostate cancer. But the more sexual partners you have, the higher your risk of prostate cancer (probably because of STIs). And the younger you were when you first had intercourse, the higher your risk of prostate cancer (which might be because you had more sexual partners than people who lost their virginity later). We don’t know whether it’s the ejaculations you had years ago, or last week, that are important.

Tim Moss

Biomedical research scientist

Associate Professor Tim Moss has PhD in physiology and more than 20 years’ experience as a biomedical research scientist. Tim stepped away from his successful academic career at the end of 2019, to apply his skills in turning complicated scientific and medical knowledge into information that all people can use to improve their health and wellbeing. Tim has written for crikey.com and Scientific American’s Observations blog, which is far more interesting than his authorship of over 150 academic publications. He has studied science communication at the Alan Alda Centre for Communicating Science in New York, and at the Department of Biological Engineering Communication Lab at MIT in Boston.

Keywords

BPH
Prostate cancer
Prostate enlargement
Prostate health
Prostatitis

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