The prostate is a part of the male reproductive system located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum.
It can become inflamed, and while there are mainstream medical practices to treat prostate inflammation, or prostatitis, some alternative practitioners carry out a prostate massage.
In conventional medicine, a physician carries out a digital rectal examination (DRE) to diagnose prostatitis, growth, or inflammation of the prostate.
Some alternative practitioners maintain that "milking the prostate" in this way can relieve certain symptoms of an inflamed prostate, providing benefits that include improved urine flow and sexual function.
This article looks at the evidence behind those claims and advises on whether a prostate massage is the best solution.
A prostate massage is similar to a DRE. As opposed to just checking for lumps or irregularities with their fingers, a practitioner carrying out a DRE will also massage the prostate.
This prostate consists of two sections. It surrounds the urethra where it joins the bladder. The prostate produces the bulk of the fluid that surrounds sperm in semen and is, therefore, vital for male fertility.
People sometimes refer to a prostate massage as "drainage", and it usually takes longer. It aims to "wring out" the prostate.
A doctor normally uses a DRE to check the overall size and condition of the prostate gland. During the procedure, a doctor will check for changes that may indicate health issues.
A doctor wearing a lubricated glove inserts a finger into the rectum and presses the sides of the prostate nearby.
If symptoms suggest the presence of an infection, the doctor may massage, or rub, the prostate to obtain fluid for later study. Prostate massage practitioners also claim that draining this fluid is useful for symptom relief.
The fluid released by the prostate is called expressed prostatic secretion. Doctors will analyze it for signs of inflammation or infection.
People with chronic prostatitis often return for prostate massages two to three times per week for the first month and reduce the frequency of sessions as symptoms improve.
Some individuals use regular prostate massages to deal manage symptoms of prostate problems.
Practitioners might perform this using their hands or with a prostate massaging device.
Prostate massage can be slightly painful. Some people report an increased burning sensation after drainage, due to the content of the fluids.
External prostate massage may involve exerting pressure on the perineum, the area about halfway between the anus and the scrotum.
Practitioners can also perform prostate massage by gently rubbing the belly, between the pubic bone and the belly button.
Devices are also available to assist with external prostate massage.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), prostatitis is a common urinary tract problem in men of all ages.
Each year, the condition prompts roughly 2 million visits to medical professionals in the United States.
The symptoms of prostatitis include:
- frequent, painful, weak, blocked, or incomplete urination
- blood in the urine
- erectile dysfunction
- painful ejaculation
- muscle pain
- back pain
- pain in the area between the anus and the scrotum.
Inflammation of the prostate gland has several causes, including:
- non-bacterial microorganisms
- immune system response
- nerve damage
The inflammation can last for a short while or be on-going.
The procedure carries a number of risks, including:
- making acute prostatitis worse and potentially causing blood poisoning, due to a risk of spreading infection
- bleeding around the prostate
- cellulitis, a serious skin infection
- hemorrhoids flare-ups
- spreading of prostate cancer, if it is already present
- damage to the rectal lining
Individuals with epididymitis, an inflammation of the tube connecting the testicle to the vas deferens, should avoid prostate massage.
Due to the potential for rectal damage, the doctor must place minimal pressure on the prostate. The area is extremely sensitive, so any intervention must be cautious and hygienic.
As a general rule, doctors do not recommend prostate massage.
Physicians generally recommend that only trained healthcare professionals treat the prostate, and that they do so with great care and gentleness.
Should I get a prostate massage to treat a prostate infection?
Prostate massage can be used before a urine test to help dislodge and identify cancer cells in the urine. Prostate massage can also be a sexual technique to stimulate pleasure and perhaps enhance an orgasm.
There is very little medical evidence to support the claims that prostate massage is effective in treating a prostate infection. Antibiotics should be the first line of care.