A PSA test is the main tool doctors use to help men check on their prostate health. But although the PSA test can be very helpful, it is not a perfect test. Many things can temporarily raise PSA levels, causing unnecessary alarm.
Currently, the medical community has not reached a consensus on which PSA levels are “safe,” “suspicious,” or “dangerous.”
Related: Understanding The PSA Test For Prostate Cancer
Different organizations, including the American Cancer Society, the American Urological Society, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and the US Preventive Services Task Force, all have different recommendations as to PSA testing. Exactly when a man should have his first PSA test and how often thereafter is a topic each man needs to discuss with his healthcare provider. And to get a more accurate reading, you should know what to avoid before having a PSA test. For example:
In the days leading up to your PSA test don’t:
- Participate in vigorous exercise and activities that stimulate or “jostle” the prostate, such as bike riding, tennis, motorcycling, and riding a horse, ATV, or tractor, or getting a prostatic massage for 48 hours before your test.
- Participate in sexual activity that involves ejaculation for 48 hours before your test. Ejaculation within this time frame can affect PSA results, especially in younger men.
- Schedule your PSA test to be done for at least six weeks after undergoing any of the following procedures: prostate biopsy, transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP), urethral catheter, cystoscopy, or any other medical procedure that involves the prostate. If you are in doubt about the possible impact of any procedure on your PSA test, talk to your doctor.
- Schedule a PSA test if you have a urinary tract infection. A bacterial infection in the urinary tract can cause PSA levels to rise temporarily. If you are not sure if you have a urinary tract infection, have a urine test before your PSA test to make sure. If you do have a urinary tract infection, you should wait at least six weeks after you have completed your antibiotic treatment before you have your PSA test.
- Schedule a digital rectal examination (DRE) before your PSA test. Although a DRE should not have an impact on PSA levels, having the PSA test first is a precaution.
Some naturopaths also recommend eating a plant based or Mediterranean diet in the days leading up to your PSA test as hormones in meat and dairy products can influence PSA levels. Meditation and yoga has also been shown to similarly reduce PSA levels in studies and trials. Similarly, a vegan based diet has been shown to reduce PSA levels in men who participated in a lifestyle based program run by Dr. Dean Ornish.
Related: 10 Ways To Lower Your PSA
Also, don’t forget to tell your doctor:
- If you undergoing chemotherapy, as these drugs can cause an elevated PSA level
- If you are taking any medications, especially aspirin, statins, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or medications that control urinary problems such as dustasteride or finasteride. All of these substances have the potential to affect PSA levels.
- If you are taking any supplements. Some sports and nutritional supplements, such as carnitine, fenugreek, pomegranate, and tribulus terrestris, can cause testosterone levels to rise.
- If you have undergone urinary tract or prostate surgery recently, or if you have suffered a pelvic injury or sports injury.
- If you have prostatitis or BPH.
The PSA is not perfect and there are other tests for prostate cancer that should be used or considered as part of a prostate health monitoring program. However, avoiding the above will help you get the most accurate result in order to determine whether any follow up tests are necessary or required.