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There are a number of things that can increase PSA levels in men that have nothing to do with an unhealthy prostate or prostate cancer. In fact, if your prostate gland is naturally very small or very large, your “normal” PSA (prostate-specific antigen) level may be lower or higher than the accepted average.
Although the risk of finding prostate cancer increases as PSA levels rise, the numbers reflect risk only: many things that increase PSA levels are not related to prostate cancer risk and appear in men who do not have prostate cancer. Of course, your first reaction is “I must have cancer!” but that is not always the case. And a higher than normal PSA shouldn’t be a reason to immediately run to having a prostate biopsy, which is a highly invasive (and often unnecessary) procedure.
Also, some men with certain genes have a genetically higher base PSA level that can show an increase level of up to 10% above what is considered normal. Only a genetic test can determine whether you have this specific gene or not.
Remember also that a high PSA is not a disease in itself. Your PSA level is a indicator of some form of disorder that is affecting the prostate, cancer, BPH, trauma or something else as detailed below.
So you need to treat the underlying condition, not the PSA itself. Many men who have generally declining prostate health suffer from BPH or prostatitis, and lifestyle, exercise, nutrition, prostate supplements and other changes can help with restoring your health.
15 Things That Can Increase PSA Levels in Men
Here are 15 things that increase PSA levels:
- Advancing age: PSA tends to rise gradually as men grow older.
- Having a digital rectal exam (DRE): A DRE can irritate the prostate and temporarily raise PSA. So make sure your healthcare provider always takes your PSA before undertaking a rectal exam.
- Prostate biopsy or surgery: Both can irritate the prostate. Doctors typically wait several weeks after a prostate biopsy to allow PSA levels to return to baseline so that the reading can be more accurate. Imagine what having 12-20 spikes injected in to your prostate must do to PSA levels!
- Catheterization: Having been recently catheterized because of a surgical procedure or other situation can increase PSA levels.
- Urinary tract infection: It irritates the prostate.
- Urinary tract surgery: Prostate irritation.
- Medication: Use of certain chemotherapy drugs or enlarged prostate drugs, such as finasteride, dutasteride, flutamide, nilutamide, and bicalutamide.
- Sex: Recent ejaculation and having too much sex, both of which can cause a mild, temporary rise in PSA. So make sure you abstain from any form of sex which includes ejaculation at least 24 hours before having a PSA test.
- Riding a bicycle: Cycling may cause a mild, temporary increase in PSA. Avoid bike riding and other similar activities like riding on a tractor or horse.
- Sports injury: Sports injuries to the pelvic region can raise PSA.
- Supplements: Use of sports supplements taken by body builders can affect PSA.
- Pelvic injury or trauma to the prostate.
- Prostatitis: One of the things that increase PSA levels is a prostate infection like prostatitis, and so the PSA test can be a diagnostic tool to determine whether you have prostatitis.
- Enlarged prostate gland: An elevated PSA can indicate the presence of Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
- Prostate cancer: Prostate cancer and the symptoms associated with it can elevate PSA.
So the message is, don’t panic. If your PSA is slightly above normal think of the lifestyle aspects that may have caused this increase.
Also, what is important is the base PSA and the fluctuations over time. If you have a constant PSA of 3 for five years for example there generally may be no reason for concern as you may have a constant ongoing infection or inflammation like prostatitis or BPH. If your PSA increases however from 3 to 10 in a short period then that would require more immediate attention. And, of course, always seek professional help, guidance, and opinion from your urologist.
Many things influence PSA levels so make sure you look at all the factors that are relevant to you before deciding on whether to undertake more invasive diagnosis to determine whether it is prostate cancer.