Prostate (n.): 1640s, from Greek prostates “leader, ruler, guardian; one standing in front,” so called from its position at the base of the bladder.
It’s an important part of the male anatomy that plays an essential role in reproductive health — however for all the talk of the prostate, there is still a lot of confusion as to what it is, what it does and how it feels when it is stimulated. To get to the bottom (heh heh) of this topic and so follows our very, very in depth attempt to answer every conceivable question you could ever have about the prostate.
What’s a Prostate & What Does It Do?
According to sex and relationship coach and author of “The Ultimate Guide to Prostate Pleasure”Charlie Glickman PhD, “The prostate plays two roles in men’s sexual response cycle. First, it produces a portion of the fluid that becomes semen. During arousal, the prostate starts to fill up with this fluid, which is then mixed with sperm from the testicles and fluids from the seminal vesicles to become semen.”
However it’s not all cold, hard biological talk. He continues “The prostate is also part of a man’s pleasure response. When the gland releases that fluid into the urethra, it squeezes and contracts. This results in the “point of no return” feeling that happens just before ejaculation. Some guys say that a prostate massage feels like the “start of an orgasm,” but it can last a lot longer than a few seconds!”
And he’s absolutely right: men who engage in edging — masturbating to the point of orgasm, then stopping just beforehand to prolong the feeling — report being able to maintain that sensation almost indefinitely.
Sunny Megatron, sexuality educator and host of the Showtime original series, Sex with Sunny Megatron describes the prostate as “a small walnut-sized gland that produces prostatic fluid, one of the main components of semen. For people with prostates, orgasm occurs in two parts, emission and expulsion. Emission is when the prostate releases prostatic fluid into a portion of the urethra called the prostatic urethra. Here it is joined with the other components of semen. Expulsion is what we more commonly refer to as ejaculation.”
It’s clear that emission and ejaculation are very different things. Some men who partake in chastity play or orgasm forcing or denial often turn to prostate massage in order to relieve the need to orgasm without actually having an orgasm.
Why is Prostate Massage Taboo?
We asked this question to our experts, and they all responded in quite similar ways. Psychosexual Therapist and relationship expert Dr. Sara Nasserzadeh puts it thusly: “Regardless of socio-cultural context, overall any anal stimulation is associated with homosexual tendencies and practices. Also psychodynamically, men have the object for “push” and are not supposed to be “pushed upon” therefore although some men are intrigued with the idea but either they are conflicted about exploring this practice or their partners are reluctant to “de-masculinize” their partners.”
Charlie Glickman said: “When we wrote The Ultimate Guide to Prostate Pleasure, we asked men what concerns they had. Over and over, we heard guys say that they were worried that
Sunny Megatron acknowledges this bias but also understands it’s wrong to assume prostate massage – or any male anal play – is a statement on a man’s sexual alignment. “Although people of all orientations and genders can and do enjoy prostate play, heterosexual men are the least likely to discuss it openly. It’s important to remember sex acts don’t change your sexual orientation. Many straight men enjoy anal play – many more than you might imagine! Luckily over the last few years more straight men have opened up publicly about it.”
As a topic, prostate massage comes loaded with presumptions. However there is more to the mystification of male anal pleasure than simple taboo. Of course, those taboos have to have come from somewhere. Could it perhaps be the result of some confusing myths and misnomers?
So What do We Know About Prostate Massage?
According to social psychologist and psychosexual therapist Dr. Sara Nasserzadeh, misunderstandings about prostate pleasure could be two-fold:
Misunderstanding the health benefits and possible health risks of such practice.
Our limited and relatively new knowledge base and attention towards sexual pleasure as a component of sexual relationships and explorations.
“Our knowledge of sexual pleasure,” Dr. Nasserzadeh explains, “is pretty new and somehow still limited. There are still misconceptions about the external organs let alone internal ones. Also pleasure has not always been a part of our conversation when we talk about sexuality. It was meant for procreation and reproduction, a more advanced discourse was created not long ago to talk about the emotional elements involved and now for the past couple of decades we are talking about “what gives us pleasure” in a proactive way.”
Glickman has written extensively on this topic, and told us how men reacted to the discussion of prostate massage. “The idea that anal play is painful often comes up, though I notice that it’s a lot more common when we’re talking about men receiving than when we’re talking about women.
“Until we wrote The Ultimate Guide to Prostate Pleasure, there wasn’t a book you could read that explained everything you needed to know. The lack of information kept people from trying it, which meant that there wasn’t a demand for a guide like that. But ever since the book came out, we’ve heard from hundreds of men and their partners and I can promise you that more folks are trying it than ever before!”
Luckily, Charlie Glickman, has done some digging for us. He shared some findings, along with a caution that this there is little medically funded proof – most of what we know is common sense.
“Massage increases blood flow, especially if it’s part of a sexual experience. That’s definitely a good thing for the prostate,” says Glickman. He continues: “There are a lot of muscles throughout the pelvis and many men are chronically tight in that part of the body. That can compress the prostate and limit your range of motion. Massage can help improve that, and some men report that they have firmer erections because the pelvic muscles are more able to do their job.”
Sunnyagrees. “Many health practitioners believe regular prostate massage helps protect against prostate related health ailments, including prostate cancer. Studies indicate it flushes out toxins and helps clear blockages that aren’t cleared by ejaculation alone. In addition, it relieves tension and increases blood flow to the area which also positively affects health.”
Glickman expands on the science behind Sunny Megatron’s comments: “The prostate is actually full of tiny, fluid-producing glands. And just as glands in your skin can get blocked, so can the glands in your prostate. Although ejaculation also squeezes fluids out of the prostate, it might not be strong enough to do the job if anything is trapped, so massage may be more effective.”
Not only for the reasons mentioned above, prostate massage is especially important. Bacterial prostatitis, which is a swelling and inflammation of the prostate doesn’t respond to antibiotics and one of the causes is the presence of a biofilm. Glickman explains: “That’s when a colony of bacteria produces a shield that protects them from the environment. Massaging the prostate may disrupt the biofilm and allow antibiotics to be more effective.”
Dr. Sara Nasserzadeh does have access to some solid research information to support the health benefits of prostate research.
She tells us: “It has been reported that regular prostate massages could help with erection quality and even elicit one (we have solid research among men with spinal cord injuries who report having an erection after prostate massage).”
Is a Prostate Orgasm Different from Other Orgasms?
Dr. Sara Nasserzadeh shared some info that goes much deeper into the science of this particular question.
“Rutgers University completed a study mapping the male genital system including the prostate and are analyzing more complete data. They found that sensory input from the prostate projects to the same region of the genital sensory cortex as the rest of the genital structures. This is probably the basis for men claiming prostate stimulation feels erotic. The study was done to find out more about the sensory innervation of the prostate because it may be sensate in men with complete spinal cord injury; but of course it will take further research.” Wanna see the research findings? If so, you can find them here. (pdf)
So Then How do You Massage the Prostate?
Here is one question that we have answered in a myriad of ways, and you can find below a whole list of places you can look to learn more. However this Sunny Megatron provides a very succinct answer: “Although the prostate can be reached with fingers it’s near impossible to do solo without the aid of a tool, so consider investing in a sex toy made specifically for prostate stimulation. If you have a partner to help with the massage it can be very stressful on their fingers, hands, and wrists making it difficult to maintain for long periods. Massagers not only make things easier in that regard, the vibration also gives more pleasure options than a stationary object.”
Facts checked by:
Dr. Justin Lehmiller
Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He is an award-winning educator, having been honored three times with the Certificate of Teaching Excellence from Harvard University, where he taught for several years. Dr. Lehmiller has published more than 50 academic works, including a textbook titled The Psychology of Human Sexuality that is used in college classrooms around the world. He helps people maintain healthy intimate lives through science-based, sex-positive education via his Sex and Psychology blog, workshops, and frequent media appearances.