Prostate exams are an important part of ensuring you live a long, healthy life. Although many men feel intimated by the thought of a prostate exam, the procedure is actually very quick and painless. It takes only a matter of minutes and involves only a small amount of discomfort.
During a prostate exam, your doctor will ask you to stand with your legs apart. You will bend forward to place your arms and elbows on the examining table. This will make it easier for the doctor to perform the exam.
What to expect. Your doctor will then put on a pair of gloves as well as some lubricant to make the process easier. He will insert the lubricated finger into your rectum at a downward angle to locate the prostate. Once the doctor locates your prostate, he will feel it to make certain there are no unusual bumps or hard spots on the prostate or any other irregularities.
How you might feel. You might feel the urge to urinate when the prostate is pressed, but it should pass as your doctor moves his finger. Some men also report feeling anxious or even faint or light-headed, so speak up if you need a moment to collect yourself. While it might feel awkward to be in such a position, remember that the test takes only a moment and your doctor has likely performed it thousands of times. It is a simple yet vital exam that can help to identify signs of prostate cancer, and its importance outweighs any momentary awkwardness.
Why it’s important to relax. If you tense up, your muscles will clench and your doctor will have a more difficult time gently inserting a finger and finding the prostate. To make the test as simple and quick as possible, focus on staying relaxed. Try taking deep breaths in and out through your nose, or make small talk with the doctor if that helps calm your nerves. Keep in mind that a prostate exam should never be painful, so if you feel pain, speak up and let your doctor know right away.
What if you become aroused? It is also important to note that it is not uncommon to become aroused during a prostate exam. Regardless of your sexuality or your doctor’s gender, stimulation of the prostate can lead to erection. Unfortunately, many men get embarrassed or ashamed about this natural reaction, but the truth is that stimulation of the prostate can cause feelings of arousal whether or not the man is in the mood. In fact, during oral sex many men enjoy having their prostate stimulated and some even do so during masturbation, so it is no wonder that a prostate exam can sometimes lead to an erection or feelings of arousal.
If this occurs, try not to get upset and instead focus on staying relaxed. Your doctor has likely had a number of other patients who have experienced this exact same reaction, so don’t feel embarrassed. It’s an important test that can help your doctor catch early warning signs, so a few moments of awkwardness and discomfort are certainly worth it.