Prostate massagers are surging in popularity and the reason may surprise you (2022)

Prostate massagers are surging in popularity and the reason may surprise you

By Mark Hay

Prostate massagers are surging in popularity and the reason may surprise you

By Mark Hay

We’re living in a golden age of prostate massagers.

Sales of the sex toys, which are designed specifically to stimulate the walnut-sized gland between the root of the penis and the bladder, are surging — and this exploding interest is being driven in large part by what may seem like a surprising source: straight cis men.

“The market for prostate products has been steadily on the rise,” says Forrest Andrews, a product developer at Aneros(opens in a new tab), the world’s first dedicated prostate massager maker. From 2012 to 2018 alone, their sales doubled. Other retailers have recently reported their sales up by around 40 percent a year.

Thanks in part to this sudden burst of demand, plenty of new competitors in the realm of anal pleasure have emerged, like b-Vibe(opens in a new tab), a butt-centric toy company founded in 2016. A decade ago even a well-stocked and open-minded sex store chain like Babeland only carried one or two prostate-focused toys. Today, they stock almost 30 different models produced by almost a dozen different companies, like the high-end luxury toy maker LELO(opens in a new tab). That company threw its hat into the prostate ring with the BILLY in 2009, just in time to catch what their chief marketing officer Steve Thomson once described to me (a few years back) as “The Great Prostate Rush of 2010, a bona fide run on the anal bank.”

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The BILLY massager by LELO.

It’s easy to assume that queer consumers are driving this prostate explosion, but that would be a mistake. As the sexologist Carol Queen points out, “our culture tends to conflate anal play and prostate pleasure with gay and bi men,” even though not all men who have sex with men engage in anal play. Our culture is also plagued by persistent homophobia(opens in a new tab), which paints any straight man who likes a little anal stimulation as emasculated and twisted. Increased demand for prostate toys within this overarching cultural environment could, one might think, just be a reflection of the increasing visibility of, and social acceptability of marketing content to, people with non-normative sexualities, or of the growing number of men(opens in a new tab) identifying to some degree as queer.

But the reality, explains Coyote Amrich, director of purchasing for all Babeland, Camouflage, and Good Vibrations sex stores, is that “the growth in prostate stimulation and products geared towards the prostate is largely made up of heterosexual cis-gendered men.” She’s not the only person in the industry who believes this. Leo Debois, founder of the male-focused sex retailer Adam’s Toybox, and the teams at Aneros and LELO have all noticed the same trend. “Based upon a number of polls in our user forum and our own internal research,” explains Andrews, “we determined our” largely male “customer demographic hovers around 62 percent heterosexual.”

How, in a culture with historically little broad knowledge about anal stimulation and so many hang-ups around straight male sexuality, did hetero men end up leading a prostate toy boom?

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Even through the most severe periods of cultural stigmatization, some straight cis men have found their way to prostate stimulation and gotten hooked on it because prostate massage usually triggers a uniquely powerful and deep, full-body orgasm in men(opens in a new tab). (Andrews has referred to this in the past as The Super O.) Sometimes that orgasm leads to ejaculation. Sometimes it is dry(opens in a new tab). We still don’t fully understand all of the mechanics of prostate orgasms, thanks to a dearth of study. (Most research on anal play focuses on health risks. Anal tissue’s fragility does make it easier to suffer micro-tears during play and thus, when another person’s fluids or unwashed and naked fingers are involved, to transmit diseases.) But for many it can be triggered multiple times in a session.

Many men used to discover this sensation through medicinal prostate massages(opens in a new tab), which doctors prescribed to treat prostatitis, an inflammation of the gland, before the proliferation of antibiotics. Some still recommend men massage their prostates if they have chronic or treatment-resistant prostatitis. This is actually how Aneros got its start. In the late 1990s, its founder sold a medically-oriented massager, called the Pro-State(opens in a new tab), for at-home self-treatment. As Andrews and others started reporting their experiences, Pro-State spun off Aneros in 2002 to serve erotically-minded consumers.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Carol Queen recalls, men occasionally came to sex stores on their doctors’ orders, seeking toys they could use to stimulate their prostates. But enough were coming in to Good Vibrations in the mid-1990s seeking prostate stimulation for pleasure alone that Queen, who was working there at the time, produced a how-to film, Bend Over Boyfriend, for hetero couples exploring male anal stimulation. By 2001, sex columnist Dan Savage was hearing so much about male anal stimulation among heterosexual couples that he found it necessary to hold a contest to name the act of a woman using a strap-on dildo to have anal sex with her male partner. The winning entry was “pegging,” a term which has since spread through pop culture.

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'Bend Over Boyfriend' introduced people to the idea of prostate massage.

FATALE STUDIOS

Men can stimulate their prostates to a degree without anal penetration, by applying pressure to the perineum (the strip of skin between the scrotum and the anus). But many find that does not give them the same thrill or quality of sensation as more direct, internal stimulation. Until Aneros came out with its dedicated prostate massagers, most men interested in non-penile internal prostate stimulation had to use fingers, or toys made for other purposes.

Other toys work to a degree, but their grips and handles and even the bend of a human wrist often aren’t ideal for comfort during stimulation. Nor is the curve of the average dildo(opens in a new tab) ideal for hitting the prostate. And dildos and vibrators without a flared base(opens in a new tab) risk getting stuck in a rectum, necessitating a trip to your friendly neighborhood proctologist.

So before 2002, the market for prostate stimulation may have been artificially suppressed by cultural stigmas, a lack of open conversation and knowledge, and also just by a lack of products made and market precisely for it. Aneros did see steady growth in its business from 2002 on, Andrews says — just not on par with the last decade’s growth rate.

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The MGX Trident is based on the original Aneros model.

The big spike of the past decade probably had a lot to do with toy makers’ outreach and education efforts. Aneros reps travel the world, says Andrews, “giving training sessions on the ins and outs of prostate play, while familiarizing sales staff with our prostate stimulators.” LELO(opens in a new tab) has likewise published and promoted a series of how-to guides and normalization and demystification articles and ads, especially since 2015(opens in a new tab), when they decided to double down on the prostate toy market.

“When educators and retailers are matter of fact” about prostate massage, argues Charlie Glickman(opens in a new tab), co-author of 2013’s The Ultimate Guide to Prostate Pleasure— itself a major milestone in easily accessible and reliable information on anal play for all audiences — “it destigmatizes anal and prostate pleasure, which makes it more accessible.” (The majority of the people buy his book, Glickman has noticed, seem to be heterosexual cis men or their relationship partners.)

The proliferation of large and anonymous, but open-minded, digital communities devoted to exploring male sexuality, health, and masturbation, like Reddit’s r/ProstatePlay(opens in a new tab), which boasts 14,600-plus members, help to amplify and proliferate that information beyond sex stores and retail sites as well.

This education slowly collided with more liberal attitudes towards sexual exploration and sensation seeping into pop culture around the turn of the decade. Andrews credits the biggest spikes, in 2012 and 2015, to the popularity of 50 Shades of Grey. (The book was published in 2011, then turned into a movie in 2015.) While god awful in every way, it did mainstream a number of sexual practices, even while massively misrepresenting them(opens in a new tab).

Major mainstream TV shows like Broad City(opens in a new tab) have also started to explore male anal stimulation in a non-judgmental way. (Previous shows and movies often played male anal stimulation for homophobic laughs(opens in a new tab).) Today, even supermarket aisle publications like Cosmopolitan(opens in a new tab) openly and enthusiastically talk about prostate massage.

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“There is far more support for wide-ranging sexual exploration than there used to be,” says Queen. In today’s cultural sphere, “people are encouraging and informing each other” about new acts, tearing down old taboos — even if some, like male anal stimulation stigmas, fall slower than others.

As part of that exploratory spirit, “more men are realizing that sex doesn’t only have to be about the penis” for them, says Glickman. “Men’s sexuality is just as complex and diverse as women’s.”

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Most people are always looking for a new plateau of pleasure.

Many men, adds Andrews, “are convinced that they know everything there is to know about achieving an orgasm. Yet they’re looking for greater fulfillment.” Because most people are always looking for a new plateau of pleasure. That quest, he stresses, alongside education and general social-sexual liberalization, can open men up to entirely new types of personal stimulation.

Traditionally, hetero men have been more likely to explore their sexuality within the context of a relationship, all too often relying on their female partners(opens in a new tab) to introduce them to or buy them sex toys. But more men, the experts I’ve spoken to broadly agree, are slowly starting to open up to exploring sexuality on their own, and to buying sex toys for purely solo pleasure and edification.

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The Vice 2 from Aneros features remote-controlled massaging.

Millennials and Gen Z-ers have actually been slower to take to prostate massage than Baby Boomers and Gen X-ers on the hunt for new types of pleasure, says Andrews. (“Aging male populations,” Chad Davis of sex retailer Adam and Eve pointed out to me a few years ago, often suffer from erectile dysfunction and “find prostate stimulation helpful in attaining erections.” They are also often just more aware of their prostates, thanks to all the potential prostatic health issues the gland poses as people age.) But younger demographics seem to be coming around now.

This trend of exploration and openness isn’t just a socially progressive community phenomenon either. Recent research(opens in a new tab) on evangelical Christian sex advice publications and groups by sociologist Kelsy Burke has found that even a surprising number overtly homophobic and generally socially conservative believers have opened themselves up to exploring hetero prostate stimulation. People, Amrich notes, have an extraordinary cognitive capacity for drawing personal distinctions between prostate play, which they may embrace, and anal stimulation, which they may still find taboo.

Prostate toy offerings have also improved as cultural forces and education have opened more men to the idea of exploring anal stimulation. Beginners can now find exactly the toy(opens in a new tab) they need to feel comfortable, while experts can dive in for designs that fit their specific needs or desires, whether it’s a specific girth, type of vibration, or a discreet size so that they can wear a stimulator around in public.

Prostate massagers are surging in popularity and the reason may surprise you (7)

The Snug Plug 4's packaging makes it look like almost any other minimalist gadget on the market.

b-Vibe

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Over the past three years, new designs have really started to flood the market, according to Glickman. It doesn’t hurt that, over the last decade, male sex toy makers in general have shifted away from overtly sexual packaging and designs(opens in a new tab), making toys more inconspicuous, so much so that they might not even register as intimate devices to someone unfamiliar with them. (Aneros has been at the forefront of this trend since its early days.) This makes the process of buying a prostate massager much less intimidating for newbies, or those who might still struggle with some stigma.

On top of all of those butt pleasure-boosting forces, prostate massagers were also perfectly positioned to ride the wellness wave(opens in a new tab) that has helped legitimize sex toys for many retailers and consumers in recent years. Manufacturers not only point out the potential benefits prostate massage can have for those with chronic prostatitis, some also claim that prostate stimulation may be able to help ward off prostate cancer, genital pain, and erectile dysfunction. “The positioning that stimulating the prostate is good for your health,” argues Amrich, “shifted the conversation, and people became more curious.”

Some of these claims are highly speculative or based on weak studies — real dubious reaches. But so are most claims made by wellness outfits like Goop(opens in a new tab), and they still manage to fly just fine with a massive consumer base.

There’s every reason to believe that the 2020s will be another banner decade for prostate play.

Glickman cautions that the sex toy industry and human sexual trends are hard to predict. The bottom could easily fall out of any trend at any given time, but all of the forces that have propelled prostate massagers to newfound prominence in recent years are still active. If anything, there are plenty of straight men whose stigmas about prostate stimulation could still be chipped away by education and pop cultural acceptance of the act, turning them into potential new customers.

There is also still room for design and marketing innovations, says Glickman, which could capture even more men’s attention. And of course a celebrity ambassador could do wonders for the concept, although Queen acknowledges that it’s harder to get big names to promote a still somewhat stigmatized act than it was to get, say, Bob Dole to talk Viagra(opens in a new tab) even in 1998.

As such, there’s every reason to believe that the 2020s will be another banner decade for prostate play. So don’t be surprised in the next year or so, if you hear more and more of your self-avowedly heterosexual cis male friends talking about the wonders of prostate massagers.

FAQs

Is there a medical reason for prostate massage? ›

It can help ease pressure and swelling by releasing fluids that build up in the prostate. Small studies have found that massaging the area several times a week -- along with taking antibiotics -- can give relief from pain and pressure. Sometimes a doctor might do a prostate massage during a prostate exam.

Do doctors recommend prostate massagers? ›

Although people often use prostate massage for sexual pleasure, doctors do not typically recommend it as a treatment. It is important to discuss all treatment options for any condition with a doctor. Learn about erectile dysfunction.

How do I shrink my prostate Mayo Clinic naturally? ›

Advertising & Sponsorship
  1. Avoid liquids a few hours before bedtime or before going out.
  2. Limit caffeine and alcohol as these may stimulate the urge to urinate.
  3. Eat a low-fat diet.
  4. Eat a large variety of vegetables each day.
  5. Eat a few servings of fruit daily, and be sure to include citrus fruits.

Does apple cider vinegar irritate the prostate? ›

Apple cider vinegar is very good for your prostate. The unfiltered, raw apple cider vinegar features astringent properties, helping shrink the swollen prostate glands. Also, it aids weight loss and helps prevent complications of an enlarged prostate such as UTIs.

How do you release prostate tension? ›

Lie on the floor with your knees bent and apart. Tighten your pelvic floor muscles for three seconds and then relax them for three seconds. Repeat a few times. Be sure to focus only on the pelvic floor muscles.

Is coffee good for prostate? ›

One to 3 cups a day can lower your odds of aggressive prostate cancer by nearly a third -- no matter what your health condition is. If you have or used to have prostate cancer, the news could be good for you, too. Researchers also found that 4 or more cups of coffee a day may help delay the disease's progression.

What is the latest treatment for enlarged prostate 2022? ›

Entadfi is expected to be available in early 2022. Credit: Getty Images. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Entadfi (finasteride and tadalafil) for the treatment of the signs and symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) in men with an enlarged prostate for up to 26 weeks.

What is the best fruit for prostate? ›

Diet and an enlarged prostate

Share on Pinterest Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are recommended as part of an enlarged prostate diet. The prostate gland is controlled by powerful hormones known as the sex hormones, including testosterone.

What foods irritate the prostate? ›

Foods to avoid
  • red and processed meat.
  • high-fat dairy.
  • alcohol.
  • saturated fat.

How can I shrink my prostate without medication? ›

To help control the symptoms of an enlarged prostate, try to:
  1. Limit beverages in the evening. ...
  2. Limit caffeine and alcohol. ...
  3. Limit decongestants or antihistamines. ...
  4. Go when you first feel the urge. ...
  5. Schedule bathroom visits. ...
  6. Follow a healthy diet. ...
  7. Stay active. ...
  8. Urinate — and then urinate again a few moments later.

How do you release prostate tension? ›

Lie on the floor with your knees bent and apart. Tighten your pelvic floor muscles for three seconds and then relax them for three seconds. Repeat a few times. Be sure to focus only on the pelvic floor muscles.

Do urologists massage prostate? ›

A Urologist answers: Does prostate massage have any health benefits?

How do I know if I found my prostate? ›

Follow your penile shaft when you're erect and find the spot where the area becomes softer. This spot is located between your scrotum and anus. Even if you don't feel the gland, you may experience a voiding sensation if your bladder is full.

Does prostate massage increase PSA levels? ›

We conclude that digital rectal examination, prostatic massage and ultrasonography have minimal effects on serum PSA levels in most patients.

Can ejaculating too much cause prostatitis? ›

Rationale: Large cohort studies have revealed that frequent ejaculation is associated with higher risk of prostatitis, especially in young men.

Can you get prostatitis from not ejaculating? ›

Prostatitis can develop into a chronic (ongoing) problem: Possible causes include repeated bacterial infections, stress, not ejaculating often enough, and unknown causes. Symptoms may include frequent urination, burning with urination, and lower abdomen or back pain.

Is coffee good for prostate? ›

One to 3 cups a day can lower your odds of aggressive prostate cancer by nearly a third -- no matter what your health condition is. If you have or used to have prostate cancer, the news could be good for you, too. Researchers also found that 4 or more cups of coffee a day may help delay the disease's progression.

What does prostate fluid look like? ›

The prostate glands produce and contain fluid that forms part of semen, the substance emitted during ejaculation as part of the male sexual response. This prostatic fluid is slightly alkaline, milky or white in appearance.

Can you check your prostate yourself? ›

“Since the prostate is an internal gland, it's extremely important that only licensed medical professionals conduct the exam. At-home self-exams should not be administered in order to avoid injury or self-harm.

What does a cancerous prostate feel like? ›

While most prostate cancer does not cause any symptoms at all, the symptoms and signs of prostate cancer may include: Frequent urination. Weak or interrupted urine flow or the need to strain to empty the bladder. The urge to urinate frequently at night.

What is the normal PSA for a 70 year old man? ›

3.5-4.5: Normal for a man 60-70 yrs. 4.5-5.5: Normal for a man 70-80 yrs.

What is an alarming PSA level? ›

PSA levels under 4 ng/ml are generally considered normal, while levels over 4 ng/ml are considered abnormal. PSA levels between 4 and 10 ng/ml indicate a risk of prostate cancer higher than normal. When the PSA level is above 10 ng/ml, risk of prostate cancer is much higher.

Can prostate massage cure erectile dysfunction? ›

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.

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