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The prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test can be stressful for some men. The results of the test can indicate whether you might need to undergo further testing for prostate cancer. While the PSA test is not a perfect test, it is still considered one of the important tests for men over 50, along with a digital rectal examination of the prostate (DRE).
You may wonder, “What is PSA or should I get a PSA test?” While the experts have different recommendations for the PSA test, they all agree that the PSA test is one important tool you can use to monitor your prostate health. You should get the PSA and DRE regularly, especially if you have a family history of prostate cancer.
That being said, there are few activities that can artificially and temporarily increase your PSA level. It is important to know what things to avoid before a PSA test so that your results will be as accurate as possible and do not cause you to stress over falsely high numbers.
Things to avoid before a PSA test
In the 48 hours before your PSA test you should NOT:
- Ride a bike, motorcycle, or tractor or anything that will put pressure on the region
- Participate in vigorous exercise that could jostle the prostate area (like ride a horse or do karate)
- Get a prostate massage
- Have a DRE. Schedule your DRE for after you have the PSA test
- Ejaculate or participate in any sexual activity that involves ejaculation
Keep in the mind that if you have a bacterial urinary tract infection, you should postpone your PSA until six weeks after you have completed your antibiotic. There are a few other procedures that could cause you to wait six weeks for your PSA test. If you are undergoing a prostate biopsy, a cystoscopy, a transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP), a urethral catheter, or another procedure involving the prostate you should wait six weeks before having a PSA test.
Other things that could affect your PSA test results include:
- Medications (for BPH) such as Flomax or Proscar
- Certain supplements that can cause testosterone to rise
- Recent injury to the pelvic area, including sports injuries
- Enlarged prostate from benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)
Let your doctor know your recent medical history and about any medications, supplements, injuries, or treatments you have recently undergone.
How to lower your PSA
You now know what can raise your PSA. You may wonder how to lower PSA count as well. While a high PSA can indicate a problem with your prostate health, it does not mean you have prostate cancer. There are healthy habits you can adopt which may lower your PSA and have the benefit of lowering your risk for prostate cancer and other benign prostate problems such as BPH. You can start to lower your PSA by eating less meat and more vegetables. Tomatoes have been found in studies to help lower PSA. Drink pomegranate juice. Get plenty of exercise, including aerobics and yoga. Managing your stress level can help, and some men get results with meditation.
New and upcoming tests for prostate cancer
There are new and upcoming tests for prostate cancer. The good news about these tests is that they can tell you more specific information that the PSA test alone. You and your doctor can use the new urine test for prostate cancer to let you know if you have low-risk or high-risk prostate cancer, and this can help you make more informed decisions about further testing and treatment. Also, a new genetic test that predicts prostate cancer is on the way. This too will allow doctors and patients to learn more about how aggressive their tumors are so they can make the right treatment decisions for them.
Talk to your doctor about your risk factors for prostate cancer. Knowing your risk factors along with your PSA level are some of the first steps in getting on track with your prostate health. Just be sure that you avoid doing any of the activities that can affect your PSA level for the 48 hours leading up to your test, and be aware of the other factors that can influence your levels as well.