Common Health QuestionsBack
Why should I avoid sexual activity before a PSA test?
Before having a PSA test to test for prostate cancer, men should not have ejaculated during the previous 48 hours.
Semen released during sexual activity can cause PSA (prostate-specific antigen) levels to rise temporarily, which may affect the test results.
For the same reason, before having a PSA test, men should not have:
- exercised vigorously in the previous 48 hours
- an active urinary infection (PSA may remain raised for many months)
- had a prostate biopsy in the previous six weeks
What is PSA?
PSA is a protein made by a man's prostate gland (a small gland in the pelvis between the penis and bladder).
What are PSA tests?
PSA tests are used to measure the level of PSA in a man's blood. A raised level of PSA can be a sign of a prostate condition, such as:
Digital rectal examinations (DRE)
You may also be offered a DRE, another way to diagnose problems with your prostate gland.
During the DRE the doctor will insert their finger into your anus to check for any abnormalities on the prostate gland.
A prostate biopsy, where a tissue sample is taken from the prostate for analysis, can also increase your PSA levels.
Your PSA test should therefore be carried out either:
- before the surgery
- at least six weeks afterwards
Read the answers to more questions about operations, tests and procedures.
Ejaculation (when semen is released from a man's penis during sexual activity) 48 hours prior to the test can cause PSA (prostate-specific antigen) levels to rise temporarily, which may affect the test results.