Sex and the Prostate

I do not have a moral position on this, but if sleeping around can prevent cancer it raises a whole lot of questions about sleeping around rather than of cancer. A recent report says that if men slept with more than 20 women, it would reduce their chances of prostate cancer:

Researchers at the University of Montreal believe that intercourse protects men, and men who are more promiscuous have more sex than those in monogamous relationships. However, for homosexual men the benefit is lost because of the increased risk of picking up a sexually transmitted disease, and the damage to their bodies from intercourse. However gay men with just one partner are at no greater risk.

It does not sound right. Promiscuity does not ensure unlimited sex, for getting a partner isn't as easy as being married or in a steady relationship. There is the added woe of wooing before men can manage to relieve themselves of prostate worries.

If one includes paid sex, then it brings up the same point as the researchers have done with homosexuality — the risk of other diseases. Sexually-transmitted diseases would affect the steady partners of these men as well, and the other women too.

The reason I am emphasising this is such studies tend to be tunnel visioned. Also, a bit ridiculous. Lead researcher Dr Marie-Elise Parent says:

"It is possible that having many female sexual partners results in a higher frequency of ejaculations, whose protective effect against prostate cancer has been previously observed in cohort studies."

What about masturbation? It is assumed that multiple partners transform men into some sort of invincible creatures who in the name of the prostate also end up without any issues of premature ejaculation or performance anxiety. Besides, promiscuity is not a panacea as it is made out to be:

When a man has slept with more than 20 women during his lifetime there was a 28 per cent reduction in the risk of having prostate cancer, and a 19 per cent reduction for aggressive types of cancer.

The study observed 3200 men over a four-year period. This is not a lifetime. If we address the 28 percent reduction, do we blame the 72 percent still in the red on truant monogamous moments?

The word promiscuity itself is wrong if the timeframe is a lifetime. People rarely get into one relationship and die while in it. A sexually active youth (male and female) could well be in and out of affairs, often due to heartbreak, moving places, altered perceptions. It is not always about sleeping around. How would this qualify as promiscuity?

Without intending to, such studies end up demonising whole groups. Besides homosexuals, it also tacitly implies that women in steady relationships might cause men to get cancer. It is their duty to set them free and reclaim their health.

The worrying aspect is not the emotive nature of the relationship dynamics one might see (although multiple partners is not really a new idea), but the pressure on men. Imagine a young male reading the report. He has his career before him, a new family and a life ahead. This niggling prostate issue lands on his table. He thinks about what all he has to achieve, how much he cares about the wife and infant. Instead of pills he can pop, exercises he can do, he is told about women as the cure.

It is likely to tear him apart — his dreams, his life, he thinks, are now hostage to finding women. He is in a happy marriage, yet he will believe in the multiple theory even though he goes home and has a rollicking time. Such is the power of 'scientific' studies and autosuggestion, especially when mortality stares back, that it will be seen as the last hope before others have even been tried.

Traditionally, and psychologically, male immortality was possible with perpetuation. Now it seems he will have to find life in evanescence.