If you are a person with a prostate, you have probably been warned to frequently check yourself for prostate cancer. Even though it’s a scary thought, it’s worth it to keep an eye on your prostate because 1 in 8 people with a prostate will get diagnosed with prostate cancer sometime in their life.
Luckily, there are ways to monitor your prostate’s health so you can catch things like prostate cancer early. Here is a guide for quick and easy steps to check on your prostate.
How Do I Check My Prostate at Home?
So, you might be wondering if there is an easy and quick way to check your prostate at home, similar to how people with breasts check themselves for lumps at least once a month.
Unfortunately, there is not a similar routine that AMAB people can incorporate into their lives.
Unlike looking for a lump, the feeling of your prostate won’t be as obvious if you have prostate cancer. So, even though you technically can use your fingers to feel your prostate, we do not recommend relying on home checks. No matter how many prostates you have touched in your life, you should rely on a doctor to tell you if something feels different about yours.
The best way to check for prostate cancer is to head to your doctor’s office for a prostate exam to avoid the risk of a self-underdiagnosis or accidental damage to your rectum.
What Are the Potential Signs of Prostate Cancer?
Although you can’t check your prostate gland for lumps or other signs of cancer, there are a few symptoms that are commonly linked to prostate cancer that you can monitor.
Because your prostate is next to the urethra, many prostate cancer signs appear in urination.
Common symptoms include painful urination, blood in the urine, trouble urinating, or a decreased force of urination.
Other symptoms can include erectile dysfunction, body aches, or weight loss. If you are having any of these symptoms, you should see a doctor for a prostate exam.
When Should I Get a Prostate Exam?
You should see your doctor for a prostate exam if you have any of these symptoms. But these aren’t the only times you should check your prostate. Prostate cancer is easy to treat if caught early enough, so be sure to be adamant about getting a prostate exam at the proper time.
The risk of prostate cancer increases as you age because your prostate commonly increases in size. In fact, six in 10 people diagnosed with prostate cancer are older than 65.
Because of the increase in risk as you get older, you should start receiving regular prostate examinations by the age of 50. However, if your family has a history of prostate cancer diagnoses, you should start these routine cancer screening tests by age 45.
If you have never had a prostate exam and don’t know what to expect, we are here to tell you what it will typically look like. It is a routine process that is quick, easy, and painless. There are multiple prostate cancer screening techniques, including:
Digital Rectal Exam
The first exam the doctor will most likely conduct, and the most common is a digital rectal exam (DRE). For the doctor to access your prostate, they will have you bend over at the waist or lay on your side with your knees to your chest.
During a digital rectal examination, your doctor will insert a lubed and gloved finger into your rectum and press on your prostate with their finger while their other hand presses on your pelvic area. They won’t need to stay there for long, meaning this early detection process is extremely quick.
Your doctor should be able to tell you immediately if they notice any irregularities like an enlarged prostate. Be sure to warn your doctor if you have any hemorrhoids or anal tears, as the exam could worsen these or cause pain in an otherwise painless procedure.
The prostate-specific antigen or PSA test is more thorough and accurate. Your doctor might want you to take this exam if they noticed anything strange during the digital rectal exam, or they might do these exams routinely as you age.
This PSA screening test measures the amount of PSA, an antigen produced by the prostate, in your bloodstream. If there are high levels of PSA in your blood test, that might be a strong indicator of prostate cancer. However, there are other causes of high PSA levels, so you might need further testing after this if there is a cause for concern.
Recent ejaculation, medical procedures, testosterone supplements, and older age can all raise PSA levels.
To conduct a PSA blood test, your doctor will take a blood sample from you and send it in for testing. Once they get the results back, they will discuss with you what your levels are and if they are in a healthy range or not.
A biopsy may be the last prostate cancer screening necessary if your healthcare provider is concerned about abnormalities. A prostate biopsy uses small needles to take a sample from the prostate to put under a microscope in order to check for cancer cells. This test can also help determine if the cancer is still in the early stages.
The most common form of prostate biopsy is a TRUS biopsy. To complete this biopsy, you will lay on your side with your knees to your chest as a doctor puts a lubed ultrasound probe in your anus.
You will receive an anesthetic injection to reduce pain before the doctor takes the biopsies. This process may seem intimidating, but it should only last a few minutes.
How Can I Keep My Prostate Healthy?
Besides getting routine prostate exams, there are a few other ways to maintain your prostate’s health in your own time. Even with a family history of prostate cancer, there are options for prevention.
Our diet can affect our hormones, like testosterone, which means that our diet can affect our prostate’s health.
People with a diet mainly consisting of meat and dairy are at a higher risk of prostate cancer. Therefore, be sure to eat your share of fruits and vegetables, and turn to plant-based protein options when available.
Additionally, having a high-fiber diet will decrease the hormone levels that can lead to cancer growth. If you need more fiber-rich foods, turn to vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and fruit.
Prostate massages are one of the best ways to maintain the health of your prostate. Many prostate complications that arise are due to an increase in prostate growth, such as BPH.
Although you most likely won’t be able to avoid prostate growth as you age, prostate massages can keep the growth to a minimum, reducing the risk of any major complications.
Use a well-lubed finger or a prostate massager to locate the prostate in your rectum and massage it. Not only will this help maintain the health of your prostate, but it can also lead to a mind-blowing orgasm.
Healthy prostate and an orgasm? Say less!
Although we wish there were an easy way to examine your prostate and test for irregularities, the best way to check for prostate cancer is to go to a doctor. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so if you notice disruptions in your urination or other strange symptoms, schedule an appointment.
In the meantime, there are a few things you can do to reduce your risk of prostate-related issues. Be sure to eat a high fiber, plant-based diet, exercise regularly, and give yourself regular prostate massages.
Combining these choices and frequent prostate exams will leave you in the best position to catch prostate cancer early or even avoid it entirely.