Prostate cancer is highly prevalent, with the American Cancer Society estimating that one in eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in their life. This type of cancer can be quite serious, and while most people with prostate cancer do not die from it, or even know they have it, it is still the leading cause of cancer death in American men.
By reading the title, you’re probably wondering how ejaculation can help prevent prostate cancer, and we’ll get to that. But, we first need to go over what prostate cancer is and what it may be caused by.
What is Prostate Cancer?
The prostate is a gland that sits just below the bladder and in front of the rectum, so think of it as being in line with your butt but sitting in the middle of your body. The prostate is only found in men and is responsible for making some of the fluid that semen is partially made up of. Because of this, the urethra goes through the center of the prostate and is in charge of carrying both urine and semen out of the body through the penis.
Just like the ears and nose, the prostate can change size as men get older. In younger men, it is around the size of a walnut, but it can be much bigger in older men.
In most cases, prostate cancers are adenocarcinomas, which develop from the cells of the prostate gland. Other types of cancer that can begin in the prostate include small cell carcinomas, transitional cell carcinomas, neuroendocrine tumors, and sarcomas. However, these types are very rare, so in most cases, prostate cancers are adenocarcinomas.
In most cases, prostate cancer grows very slowly. Many men may have prostate cancer but never end up being affected by it, and sometimes never even know they have it. There are cases where it can grow and spread quickly, but that is usually not the case.
What Causes Prostate Cancer?
Scientists are not entirely sure what causes prostate cancer, but they do have a list of factors that may increase your risk of developing it. Most of these risk factors are related to gene mutations. Your genes play an essential role in controlling when our cells grow, divide, and die, and mutations in these genes can cause cancer cells to form.
For example, oncogenes are responsible for helping cells grow and divide. Cancer cells are notorious for growing out of control, which is how tumors form. This can occur due to a mutation to an oncogene that leads to continuous growth and division. However, other genes are also important in this aspect, and they are tumor suppressor genes. These genes are responsible for keeping cell growth from getting out of hand and causing cells to die when it is their time. Mutations in these two types of genes play a role in how cancer cells can continue to grow with no check, causing tumors to develop.
Unfortunately, there are many gene mutations that can be inherited, meaning you have no say over whether or not you have these genes. This is why family history is usually a significant indicator of cancer likelihood. These gene mutations play a role in about 10% of all prostate cancers, so knowing if you have a family history of prostate cancer is important.
There are also gene mutations that can occur throughout your life and that you do not have to worry about passing on to children. When it comes to mutations, this is how most gene mutations related to prostate cancer are developed. In general, something that makes prostate cells grow and divide faster lends room to higher instances of mess-ups, like when you rush through baking a cake. You pull the cake out of the oven, see it never rose, and realize you forgot the baking powder. The same thing happens to your cells; if cell division speeds up, there is a higher likelihood of messing up the process of copying the cell’s DNA.
Androgens are male hormones, the most well-known being testosterone. These hormones promote prostate cell growth, and so having higher levels of androgens may increase the risk of prostate cancer.
As you can see from this list, there is very little that can be done to help reduce your risk of developing prostate cancer. But, one particular activity may help reduce the risk of prostate cancer, and you’re in luck because it is typically quite enjoyable.
How Does Ejaculation Reduce the Risk of Prostate Cancer?
A huge study of 31,925 men completed over eighteen years found that ejaculating more often results in a lower chance of prostate cancer. In fact, ejaculating at least 21 times a month decreases the likelihood of prostate cancer by 20% compared to those who ejaculate only 4-7 times per month.
Now, these results sound great, especially since there is little that can be done to prevent prostate cancer. Still, you’re probably wondering how exactly ejaculation can help prevent cancer from developing. Let’s dig a little deeper.
Ejaculation does a great job of clearing out the urethra as semen rushes through it, and as we already know, the urethra passes right through the prostate. Harmful chemicals can build up in semen, so by ejaculating, you rid the body of these harmful chemicals and protect the prostate. By ejaculating more often, there is less time for the harmful chemicals to do anything to the body, and there is also less of a buildup, both of which may be good for the prostate.
Since there is little information on why ejaculation may protect against prostate cancer, it is important to acknowledge that those who ejaculate more often may just live healthier lives. They may have better lifestyle habits that play a role in their decreased risk of developing prostate cancer. More research is needed to truly determine what role ejaculation plays in prostate cancer likelihood.
With all that said, even if ejaculation doesn’t help reduce the risk of prostate cancer, as long as you don’t let it interfere with your daily life, there is no problem with ejaculating more frequently. So, you have this doctor’s seal of approval to ejaculate more often. Whether by yourself or with the help of a partner, it doesn’t matter; your prostate will thank you either way.
 What Causes Prostate Cancer?. (2021). https://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostate-cancer/causes-risks-prevention/what-causes.html
 Rider, J., Wilson, K., Sinnott, J., Kelly, R., Mucci, L., & Giovannucci, E. (2016). Ejaculation Frequency and Risk of Prostate Cancer: Updated Results with an Additional Decade of Follow-up. European Urology, 70(6), 974-982. doi: 10.1016/j.eururo.2016.03.027
 Key Statistics for Prostate Cancer | Prostate Cancer Facts. (2021). https://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostate-cancer/about/key-statistics.html
About Dr. Mel Irvine
Dr. Mel Irvine, DNP and Clinical Sexologist specializes in sexual medicine and beauty in Fort Myers Florida. She earned her Doctor of Nursing Practice at Florida Gulf Coast University and her master’s degree at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. In 2018, she completed a preceptorship at San Diego Sexual Medicine with Dr. Irwin Goldstein and obtained her clinical sexologist certification from STII with Dr. Carol Clark. She is passionate about working with singles and couples to learn and explore their sexuality and sexual health needs through providing a comfortable and nonjudgmental atmosphere. As a provider she offers a balanced and holistic approach that encompasses a multimodal care delivery model.
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