Prostate examinations are usually very uncomfortable experiences. However, regular prostate examinations are recommended for men older than 45 years of age. Prostate is a tubuloalveolar exocrine gland of the male reproductive system that stores and secretes a milky-white fluid that usually constitutes 20-30% of the volume of the semen.
Reasons for prostate examination
Various health disorders are associated with prostate, namely prostatitis, benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostate cancer. Prostatitis is the inflammation of the prostate gland, which is assigned at 8% of all urologists and 1% of all primary care physician visits in the United States.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia is characterized by the enlargement of the prostate, which makes the urination very difficult. The prostate continues growing throughout the life of men, and at some point it may become oversized, constrict the urethra and impede the flow of urine. The symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia include frequent and painful urination, increased risk of urinary tract infections and urinary retention. It is estimated that more than half of men have benign prostatic hyperplasia by the age of 50 years. The occurrence increases with aging.
Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers affecting the older men worldwide. It is estimated that prostate cancer accounts for 3% of all deaths of elderly men. Regular prostate examinations are therefore, recommended for men older than the age of 40, to detect prostate cancer early.
Knowing what to expect during the prostate examination can make this unpleasant experience slightly easier to cope with. Patient should tell the doctor if he suffers from hemorrhoids, to avoid excessive pain. It is recommended to breathe slowly through the mouth and avoid holding breath. Patient should feel free to tell the doctor if it hurts, and should try to detach and relax while thinking about something more pleasant.
During the examination, the patient will typically stand, feet apart, facing the examination couch while bending forward. The doctor will need to insert a finger into the patient’s rectum and examine the prostate gland. Before doing so, doctor will put on a surgical glove and lubricate it with a special cream.
When the doctor inserts a finger into the rectum, patient will feel a little pressure. The procedure shouldn’t be painful and this is why it is important to tell a doctor if it hurts. The doctor will probably give the patient instructions of what is about to happen, and warn him before removing the finger. After the exam, patient will get a clean tissue to clean up and some privacy to get dressed. The results are usually obtained quickly, based on the doctor’s observations during the exam.