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What to Expect from a Prostate Exam

Prostate exams are important to catch the early stages of prostate cancer and other prostate-related illnesses. Here is a step-by-step outline of what you can expect from your yearly rectal exam.

  • The prostate is a lemon-sized gland at the base of the bladder which produces the main body of seminal fluid. The doctor will need to look at the rectal area and insert a finger into your rectum to check. This is also called a DRE or digital rectal exam. Yes, he or she really does need to do this.

    anatomy of the prostate
  • Before the exam, make sure your doctor has your medical history. Come prepared with any questions or concerns you have and make sure to let the doctor know if you have hemorrhoids.
  • For the exam you might be asked to wear a standard surgical gown and can either stand with your feet apart and bend at the waist over the exam table or lay on the table with your knees pulled towards your chest.
  • After putting on a surgical glove and applying lubricant the doctor will insert a finger at a downward angle. The sphincter muscle will need to be relaxed for the procedure so the more you relax the easier it will be.
  • You will feel some pressure, but it shouldn’t be painful. Tell the doctor right away if you have pain as it could indicate a problem like prostititis.
  • The doctor will move his or her finger around to check the size, shape and texture of the prostate for abnormalities. The exam will only take a couple of minutes.
  • If the doctor finds any abnormalities he may run tests for hemorrhoids or polyps or you may need to give a blood sample for a PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test. The level of PSA in the blood and can indicate problems including prostate cancer. If there is an infection, like a UTI (urinary tract infection) the doctor will prescribe antibiotics.
So that’s all there is to it – yes, it is a few minutes of potential discomfort but early detection, better health and peace of mind couldn’t be more worth it. It might not feel like it, but it’s the manly thing to do.
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