The prostate gland plays an important role in ejaculation. Many people believe that ejaculating frequently can help reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
The prostate is a small, walnut-shaped gland that produces the fluid in semen and helps push this fluid out during ejaculation.
Because prostate cancer is so widespread, it is important to know and understand the risk factors.
This article explores whether or not frequent ejaculation can reduce the risk of prostate cancer. It also explains some other risk factors and why screening is important.
Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth or will use the terminology reflected in mentioned studies where applicable. Click here to learn more.
Over the past almost 20 years, a number of articles have claimed that ejaculating more often can reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Some scientific evidence supports these claims, although results can be conflicting.
Other studies have produced conflicting results:
Frequent ejaculation, age, and prostate cancer risk
It still remains unclear whether or not ejaculating more often makes males of all ages less likely to develop prostate cancer.
For example, an older
In contrast, a
A more recent 2017 study examined ejaculation frequency and the risk of aggressive prostate cancer. It found that a higher ejaculation frequency in a male’s 30s was protective. However, it did not see the same effect for frequent ejaculation in a male’s 20s and 40s.
Moderate vs. frequent ejaculation
The 2004 and 2016 studies defined frequent ejaculation as ejaculating 21 or more times per month. However, it may also be possible for males who ejaculate at a more moderate frequency to reduce their prostate cancer risk.
The verdict: More research is needed
A 2016 literature review concluded that masturbation, frequency of ejaculation, and age all affect a male’s risk of prostate cancer. However, its authors also stated there was not enough evidence to confirm how these factors might link together.
Therefore, while some evidence suggests a link between ejaculating more often and the risk of prostate cancer, the results overall have been inconsistent. For this reason, scientists need to conduct more research to confirm what impact, if any, frequent ejaculation has on prostate cancer risk.
Being aware of the risk factors for prostate cancer can help males understand their likelihood of developing it.
- Age: As men get older, their risk of developing prostate cancer increases. Around 60% of prostate cancer cases affect males over 65.
- Race: African American males are more likely to develop prostate cancer than white males. Hispanic and Asian American males are less likely to develop prostate cancer than non-Hispanic white males. The reasons for these differences are currently unclear.
- Geography: Prostate cancer is more common in some areas. Rates are higher in North America, Europe, and Australia than in areas such as Asia, Africa, and Central and South America. Experts do not know why, but lifestyle factors such as diet may play a role.
- Family history: Males have a higher risk of prostate cancer if they have close relatives, such as a father or brother, with a history of the condition.
- Genetic factors: Certain genetic changes may increase the risk of prostate cancer. Changes in the BRCA genes, which also increase the risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer, may play a role.
- Exposure to chemicals: It is possible that some chemicals may increase the risk of prostate cancer. For example, some findings
suggestthat Agent Orange — which military forces used in the Vietnam war — may have links with prostate cancer.
According to the
- maintaining a moderate weight
- exercising regularly
- eating a healthy diet that focuses on foods such as whole grains, fresh produce, and leaner protein sources
- reducing the consumption of red meat, processed foods, or foods that are high in sugar or refined carbohydrates
Drugs called 5-alpha reductase inhibitors (finasteride) may help to lower prostate cancer risk, though doctors do not typically use them in this manner and the effects are not yet well known. Doctors typically use these drugs to treat an enlarged prostate, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet approved them for preventing prostate cancer.
Ultimately, if a person is using these medications, it should be taken into account when screening for prostate cancer.
Regular screening with blood tests or rectal exams can aid in the early detection of prostate cancer and improve the chances of successful treatment.
Males who receive a diagnosis when the cancer is still within the prostate or has only spread to nearby tissues have, on average, an
Someone who receives a diagnosis in the later stages, when cancer has spread to other, more distant, parts of the body, has a 31% chance of living another 5 years or more.
For this reason, it is important to speak with a doctor about screening.
Transgender people assigned male at birth should also ask their doctor about screening. This is because they may still have a risk of developing prostate cancer following gender confirmation procedures.
Research suggests that there may be a link between frequent ejaculation and a lower risk of prostate cancer. However, there is not currently enough evidence to confirm this.
All males and anyone assigned male at birth should speak with their doctor about their risk factors and follow any screening guidelines the doctor recommends
I have heard there are home testing kits for prostate cancer. Are they a good idea?Anonymous
People worried about prostate cancer can speak with their doctor about screening options. The home kits check for prostate specific antigen (PSA), which may not be a reliable indicator. This is because males with elevated PSA levels may not have prostate cancer.
It is best to discuss the risks and benefits of prostate cancer screening and the various testing options with a doctor.
In short, skip the at-home test and go straight to the doctor for a discussion.Alana Biggers, MD, MPHAnswers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.