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.

Prostate biopsy

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.

Further information:

Page last reviewed: 31/01/2017

Next review due: 31/01/2020