After treatment for prostate cancer we all continue to watch our PSA (prostate specific antigen) like a hawk. Some of us prudently monitor our PSA level annually. Others are even more diligent, checking two to four times each year. Still others might be viewed as highly focused or slightly obsessive, checking the PSA as often as a productive vein can be found in the same room as a needle and a nurse, sometimes even weekly. Regardless of which group matches your habits most closely, we all have the same goal: a low PSA. So what can you do to prepare properly for a PSA test and help ensure the lowest possible number?
The correct question is really not what to do, but what not to do. When the prostate is stimulated it can produce more of the prostate specific antigen, causing a temporary spike in your PSA level. To prevent this, we are often told to avoid motorcycles, bicycles, tractors, horses, and all sexual activity for a couple days prior to each test. That’s good advice, but there are other lesser known activities to avoid. You might not have heard about these five, and there is no evidence that they matter, but see if they make sense to you and ignore them at your own peril.
If jumping off a cliff and then bouncing like a yo-yo on an elastic string to within a few feet of the ground or water is your preferred exercise activity, take note: each bounce is the equivalent of five miles on a motorcycle and can cause your PSA to bounce into double digits. This activity should be avoided for at least the five days prior to each test. For similar reasons, pogo sticks are out, too. And of course, sky diving is out; any landing, even a so-called smooth one, is good for at least +2 PSA points.
Making Pancakes or Waffles
The prostate is surprisingly close to your hand, and using a mixer will be just as stimulating as using a chain saw. So use a spoon …
When you mix the batter with a spoon or spatula, you should be fine. The risk is when you use an electric mixer. In that case, beware: the vibration of the mixer will move up your arm, into your skeletal structure, and will then travel throughout your entire body. The prostate is surprisingly close to your hand, and using a mixer will be just as stimulating as using a chain saw. So use a spoon, buy a ready-to-use batter, or just go to Waffle House.
Using Any Engine
We are told to avoid Harley Davidson and John Deere, but there’s much more. For at least seventy-two hours prior to a test it is imperative to avoid all mopeds, jet-skis, ATVs, and F150s. In fact, anything with a motor is out, even a Segway. Planes, trains, boats, buses, and even most cars (especially on rural South Carolina roads) are not only exciting to us, but also to the prostate, so plan to stay home. If you are not yet retired use sick leave if necessary, but under no circumstances should you leave home in a motor-driven vehicle. Don’t forget to shop for essential supplies (beer, batteries, etc.) prior to the seventy-two hour curfew.
Watching Cable TV
It might seem innocent and very well could begin that way, but cable television (or satellite) is a minefield of prostate stimulators. In this highly permissive era, watching virtually any TV series or movie can lead you unexpectedly and suddenly into a virtual onslaught of arousal. Anything from romantic kissing to partial nudity, implied sex, and even explicit sex can confront you without warning. I realize that it is difficult to abstain entirely from this activity for several days prior to a PSA test, and that’s fine. But if you do venture into TV land you must be prepared to postpone your test. You cannot unsee what you have seen, you cannot unstimulate the prostate, and you cannot change the channel fast enough.
Seeing Your Dentist
Your teeth are part of your skeletal structure, and what happens in your mouth travels to all parts of your body, including your prostate. The constant drilling, chiseling, hammering, and saliva sucking (not to mention occasional gagging) is like sending a demolition crew directly into your prostate, and that is almost guaranteed to elevate your PSA. Your teeth can wait, and so can your dentist.
Not everyone will agree with all of the above, but you can’t be too careful. I’m not exactly saying you should wear a straight jacket for the week prior to testing, but just lie down and sleep calmly and comfortably for at least a few days. Then hire a taxi to transport the lab technician to your home to draw your blood, and afterward have a wild party to celebrate a job well done and (hopefully) a low PSA.
How do you prepare for a PSA test? I’d love to give your techniques a try, so please send your techniques to me. Thanks!