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The prostate has emerged from shadowy obscurity in recent decades. It’s revamped its reputation as an occasional enlarged inconvenience of the elderly into a hotspot of male sexual pleasure and the basis of a new area of preventative medicine — prostate health.
Although its status as “the male G spot” (see below) has grabbed most of the sexy headlines, the reality is that this critical reproductive organ can often go on the fritz. This can lead men to seek specific medical treatments or therapies to deal with chronic conditions.
One of them is prostate massage or prostate “milking”.
- As men age, their likelihood of experiencing problems with their prostate increases.
- Proponents maintain that prostate massage or prostate milking may clear the prostatic duct, reducing or relieving symptoms of prostatitis.
- Though some studies have suggested that prostate massage therapy may be beneficial to some men, the evidence is inconclusive.
- Prostate-induced orgasms have been described in the medical literature, however (Levin, 2017).
What is the prostate? What does it do?
The prostate is a gland that sits between the bladder and the penis. It’s often described as walnut-sized though that’s only really true in younger men as we’ll discover in a moment.
The prostate’s job is to produce prostatic fluid, which is a component of semen. This fluid nourishes and protects sperm (which are produced in the testicles) and ultimately gets them where they need to go. During ejaculation, the prostate contracts, sending the fluid into the urethra. The urethra is the tube within the penis that transports semen and urine out of the body.
As we age, the prostate can become enlarged because of several conditions. The three most common prostate problems are benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), which affects most men over age 50; prostatitis, an inflammation of the prostatic sometimes caused by an infection; and prostate cancer, the most common form of cancer in men. 1 in 9 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point during their lifetime.
Because the prostate surrounds the neck of the bladder and urethra, an enlarged prostate may cause difficulty with urination. Problems can include urine flow, difficulty starting urination, frequent urgency to urinate (including having to get up several times overnight to do it), and the feeling of incomplete bladder emptying.
Prostate cancer has its own considerations, treatments, and therapies; massaging the prostate is not recommended as one of them. Some urologists think that manipulating the gland could, in theory, cause any cancer cells there to spread.
Prostate massage in a medical setting
Some studies have examined prostate massage in a medical context as a treatment for an enlarged prostate. A study published in Medscape General Medicine (Hennenfent, 2006), looked at five men who were suffering from urinary retention (i.e., an inability to pee) because of an enlarged prostate. All underwent “repetitive prostate massage” (in addition to treatment with antimicrobial drugs, alpha-blockers, and finasteride in two of the subjects) as an alternative to having their prostates removed. All five—who were wearing catheters at the beginning of the study—regained the ability to urinate, were able to have the tubes removed and avoided surgery.
Several studies also describe prostate massage being used as a treatment for chronic prostatitis. One study published in the journal Urology (Ateya, 2006) found that it was ineffective. Another study conducted by UCLA Medical Center and the Institute of Male Urology in Los Angeles looked at 73 men with chronic prostatitis, who were treated with antibiotics and regular prostate massage by urologists. Forty percent of them saw their symptoms resolve completely, and 21 percent experienced some improvement.
So clearly prostate massage isn’t a magic bullet for prostatitis, and more research is needed. There are anecdotal cases of doctors recommending it, but you’re unlikely to get a prescription for it.
But in terms of the health benefits of regular ejaculation, the science is pretty conclusive that it’s beneficial — more on that in a moment.
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The difference between prostate massage and prostate milking
During prostate massage, the prostate may be stimulated with a finger or prostate massager device inside the rectum. In external prostate massage, pressure is applied to the perineum (the area between the testicles and anus).
Prostate “milking” is sometimes used interchangeably with “massage,” but it usually refers to stimulating the prostate for sexual pleasure during masturbation, during which pre-ejaculate may be released.
Health benefits of prostate massage
While the jury is still out on the health benefits of prostate massage, several studies suggest that there are health benefits to regular ejaculation, including a lower risk of prostate cancer. A long-term study by Harvard Medical School (Harvard, 2014) found that men who reported 21 or more ejaculations a month had a 31 percent lower risk of prostate cancer than men who ejaculated between 4 to 7 times a month.
- Ateya, A., Fayez, A., Hani, R., Zohdy, W., Gabbar, M. A., & Shamloul, R. (2006). Evaluation of prostatic massage in treatment of chronic prostatitis. Urology, 67(4), 674–678. doi: 10.1016/j.urology.2005.10.021 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16566972
- Harvard Health Publishing. (2014). Ejaculation frequency and prostate cancer. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/mens-health/ejaculation_frequency_and_prostate_cancer. https://www.health.harvard.edu/mens-health/ejaculation_frequency_and_prostate_cancer
- Hennenfent, B., Lazarte, A., & Feliciano, A. (2006). Repetitive Prostatic Massage and Drug Therapy as an Alternative to Transurethral Resection of the Prostate. Medscape General Medicine, 8(4), 19. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1868377/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1868377/
- Levin, R. J. (2018). Prostate-induced orgasms: A concise review illustrated with a highly relevant case study. Clinical Anatomy, 31(1), 81–85. doi: 10.1002/ca.23006 https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ca.23006