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Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to either get or maintain an erection. Symptoms of ED include an erection that does not last long enough and an erection that is not hard enough for sexual activity.

Today, the most common treatments for ED include things like oral medications and surgery. But before these more modern treatments, men often relied on prostatic massage to ease their ED symptoms. Some men still use it today in combination with other treatments.

In this article, we’ll explain prostatic massage, as well as how it works, how it’s used, and more.

Language matters

We use “men” in this article to reflect the term that has historically been used to gender people. But your gender identity may not align with how your body responds to this condition and treatment. A doctor can better help you understand your specific circumstances.

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Prostatic massage may help men with ED by clearing the prostatic duct. Massage might also interrupt infections and eliminate blocked fluids. A few studies have found that men who get a prostate massage for the symptoms of ED experience improvement.

Prostatic massage has been used since the 19th century as a treatment for prostatitis, or an inflamed prostate. It’s since been considered a treatment for ED.

However, these studies have been small. Prostatic massage is not considered a mainstream form of ED treatment. But for some men, this alternative option may be helpful in addition to other forms of treatment.

A prostate massage is similar to a digital rectal exam. But instead of checking the prostate for signs of cancer or enlargement, a doctor or specialty-trained massage therapist will massage the prostate to release blocked fluids and stimulate blood flow.

It is important to note that prostatic massage is a very specific and targeted procedure that should be performed by a trained professional. Most massage therapists do not offer this procedure, and it would be considered highly inappropriate to request it in many cases.

Whenever possible, a doctor should be the one to perform a prostatic massage.

To perform a prostatic massage, a practitioner will place a lubricated, gloved finger into your rectum and apply pressure to your prostate gland. The procedure is not usually painful, but some may find it uncomfortable.

Some doctors or practitioners will massage the prostate until you produce a thin, milky fluid called prostate fluid. This process, also known as prostate milking, is also sometimes used for sexual arousal.

In the limited studies noted above, the long-term effects of prostatic massage have been promising.

After several weeks of treatment, many men in these studies experienced fewer issues with ED. However, the long-term benefits of this type of treatment are not known, and other research is limited.

This type of treatment is not thought to be harmful or dangerous. A doctor may suggest you undergo periods of prostatic massage every few years to help ease your symptoms.

If your doctor finds and treats an underlying cause, you may not need the massage after all.

Although it may be tempting, internet videos for do-it-yourself prostatic massage likely will not be very helpful for your purposes.

If you’re working with a urologist, family health practitioner, or sexual health expert already, ask them to help you locate a prostatic massage practitioner.

Some doctors who specialize in ED treatment may have a practitioner on staff or have one they can recommend to you. Some doctors may even perform prostatic massage themselves.

Make sure that the person you select is trained specifically for prostatic massage. A general massage therapist usually is not capable of performing this specialized type of medical treatment.

Much like other types of massage, prostatic massage is designed to massage the tissues in and around your groin, gently but firmly. Depending on your symptoms, you may need more frequent treatments or a longer treatment period.

In a previous study, men underwent a massage treatment three to four times per week for at least 4 weeks. Prostate massage was shown to be effective as a treatment for prostatitis, one physical cause of ED.

Research is still limited on the effectiveness of prostate massage for ED itself.

If you have health insurance, it may not cover this type of treatment unless a medical doctor performs it. Before you begin the massage treatments, call your health insurance company and request coverage verification. Ask the massage practitioner to do the same.

If these treatments are not covered, talk with your doctor or massage therapist about the out-of-pocket costs.

If you’re frequently unable to get or keep an erection over a period of a few weeks, there may be an underlying issue. This may cause stress, anxiety, or relationship issues in your daily life. You may want to contact a doctor if you’re experiencing similar issues over several weeks.

During this appointment, your doctor will likely discuss several treatment options for ED. If you’re interested in prostatic massage as a treatment, discuss this with your doctor as well.

If you choose to try a prostate massage at home or with a partner, do so carefully. If the person receiving the massage has hemorrhoids or anal fissures at the time, it is strongly encouraged to delay the procedure until those issues are resolved.

It is also possible to bruise or tear the prostate or the delicate tissues surrounding it. If you show signs of rectal bleeding, make an appointment with a doctor because you may need additional treatment to prevent bacterial infection.

Does massage therapy help with erectile dysfunction?

Possibly, but there are not many studies to support the claim. Most studies that have looked at massage therapy for ED have been small or limited.

For example, one study of 115 men looked specifically at massage therapy in those with enlarged prostates. It showed promising signs that prostate massage could help relieve symptoms, but ED was not the only symptom analyzed.

One anecdotal review found that a man who used prostate massage to recover from a prostate infection quickly regained sexual function.

But these studies and others like them are limited in size and scope. That’s why there is not much evidence to support the use of prostate massage as a treatment for ED. However, there have not been studies that show the procedure to be harmful either.

Where do you massage for erectile dysfunction?

For a prostatic massage, you stimulate the prostate. The prostate is a small gland, about the size of a walnut. It sits below the bladder, at the front of the rectum. It surrounds the urethra, or the tube that empties urine.

During prostatic massage, the specialty-trained massage therapist or doctor will insert a lubricated finger or massage device into the rectum to reach the prostate.

A prostate massage may not be recommended if you have anal fissures or hemorrhoids due to the risk of infection or aggravating these conditions.

Can massage therapy cure erectile dysfunction?

There is little research to suggest massage therapy is a successful treatment for ED. However, some small studies have found that men who use the practice do experience some positive results.

If you’re experiencing ED, talk with a doctor about the possible causes and what treatments are available. Underlying issues like infection and an enlarged prostate could be causing difficulties with erection. Specific treatments could successfully restore full function.

Massage therapy can also be a part of ED treatment, but it’s important to understand the limits. While it might be helpful for some people, the research is not strong.

Many men experience ED issues. Not being able to achieve an erection on occasion is rarely cause for concern.

If ED issues last more than a few weeks, make an appointment with a doctor. They can rule out underlying issues that may be causing ED.

Talking with a doctor can help you determine the cause of ED. If a cause is diagnosed, you can often begin treatment immediately.

ED is common, and it can be treated in a variety of ways. Prostatic massage used to be one of the main treatments. But doctors do not use this strategy as much anymore since medicine has advanced.

This does not stop people from still seeking out prostatic massage for ED. Often, it’s used alongside other forms of treatment.

Being honest with yourself, your partner, and your doctor can help you seek out a diagnosis and a remedy for your ED.