- Prostate biopsies are relatively common procedures performed to check the prostate for cancer.
- These procedures are quick and relatively painless, lasting less than 20 minutes in your doctor’s office.
- Side effects of prostate biopsy are typically mild and not likely to affect your sex life long-term.
Have you learned you may need a prostate biopsy? While it’s understandable to be anxious about it, in reality, there’s no reason to be nervous. Prostate biopsy is a quick procedure done in your doctor’s office under local anesthesia.
We’ve outlined common questions about the biopsy process as well as how a biopsy might affect your sex life. Read on to learn more.
What is a Prostate Biopsy?
Prostate biopsies are common procedures that involve removing samples of tissue from the prostate to test for cancer. They are typically recommended if you’ve received concerning results from a digital rectal exam (DRE) or prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. If the tissue contains cell abnormalities, your provider will recommend the best next steps for monitoring and treatment.
Why Would I Need a Prostate Biopsy?
Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men (following skin cancer). It affects an estimated 1 in 8 men within his lifetime. If you’ve shown signs or symptoms of prostate cancer or received troubling results following a prostate screen, you may need a prostate biopsy.
Signs and symptoms of prostate cancer include:
- Blood in urine or semen
- Bone pain
- Difficulty getting an erection
- Trouble urinating
- Weak urine stream
- Unexpected weight loss
If you’ve noticed problems with urination, getting an erection, or blood in your urine or semen, you may wish to see a urologist. Prostate problems have been linked to erectile dysfunction (ED), making ED an early indicator of many health conditions, including prostate cancer. Your provider will likely perform a DRE and order a PSA test before scheduling a prostate biopsy.
What Happens During a Prostate Biopsy?
A prostate biopsy is a relatively quick and simple procedure, lasting only 10-20 minutes in your doctor’s office. Most providers use the traditional needle-core biopsy, but some urologists are now using a newer technique, called the MRI fusion biopsy. Your exact biopsy procedure may vary depending on your level of risk.
Most biopsy procedures involve:
- Rectal exam. A traditional rectal exam may be performed, if necessary.
- Imaging. An ultrasound of the prostate is performed during the exam. This helps to identify the best area to numb the prostate and draw samples.
- Biopsy. Tissue samples are taken from your prostate via needle. The number of samples taken is dependent upon your specific risk factors, but your doctor may take up to 12 core samples.
Your biopsy procedure steps may include:
- Positioning. Your provider will either have you lay on your side on the table and draw your knees up to your chest, or will ask you to lay on your stomach. They will clean the area and apply gel for the imaging portion of the procedure.
- Prostate numbing. Your provider will numb your prostate, so you only feel pressure during the procedure and no pain.
- Needle insertion. Depending on the biopsy type, a needle will be inserted via the wall of the rectum (transrectal biopsy) or area of the skin between the anus and the scrotum (perineal biopsy). Samples are drawn out via the needle.
Following the procedure, your tissue sample will be examined under a microscope for the presence of abnormal or cancerous cells. The biopsy will determine whether or not cancer is present and how advanced your condition is if cancer is found. Your doctor will use the biopsy results to recommend the best treatment for your specific situation.
What Side Effects Can I Expect From a Prostate Biopsy?
Fortunately, prostate biopsies are quick and relatively painless procedures. Side effects from prostate biopsies are typically mild but may include infection or blood in your urine, bowel movements, or semen. If an infection occurs at the biopsy site, your doctor will prescribe an antibiotic.
Here are some tips to have the best biopsy experience possible:
- Monitor yourself for symptoms beyond general soreness or sensitivity following the procedure.
- Talk to your doctor upfront about any questions or concerns you have about the procedure.
- Take any medication, such as antibiotics, as prescribed by your provider.
Will a Prostate Biopsy Impact My Sex Life?
Research shows that erectile dysfunction is not a common complication of prostate biopsy. If you do experience erectile dysfunction after biopsy, it’s likely to subside within a few weeks. You are much more likely to experience ED from prostate problems than from the biopsy itself.
If your biopsy turns out to be positive, your care team can help you to prepare for the impact of prostate cancer and treatment on your sex life. You can also seek support through our services at eDrugstore.com.
How eDrugstore Can Help
If you’re struggling with sexual function issues, such as erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation, or relationship and intimacy issues, eDrugstore can help. Check out our medication guide or follow the eDrugstore blog for more information about sexual health and other men’s health issues.
Shelby is a public health professional with research and field experience in sexual and reproductive health. She holds a Master of Public Health (MPH) and is a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES).