Health Question

Why should I avoid sexual activity before a PSA test?

You should avoid sexual activity before a PSA test because it may affect the test results.

What are PSA tests?

Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is a protein made by a man's prostate gland (a small gland in the pelvis between the penis and bladder).

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:

Before having a PSA test, men should not have ejaculated during the previous 48 hours.

Semen released during sexual activity can cause PSA 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 6 weeks

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 done either:

  • before the surgery
  • at least 6 weeks afterwards

Find the answers to more questions about operations, tests and procedures.

Further information