1. Health

Prostate Examination


Updated May 30, 2014

At some point most men will either be offered a prostate examination as part of general health screening, or it will be advised because of their age (usually 50+) or some problem relating to difficulty in passing urine. The examination takes only a minute or two and should be entirely painless. Here's what to expect from a prostate examination.


  • The doctor will tell you that he needs to insert a finger into your rectum in order to examine the prostate gland.

  • Usually you will be asked to stand, feet apart, facing the examination couch and bending forward so that your arms or elbows are on the couch. If you're nervous about not being able to see what's going on, this is a good time to ask the doctor to describe each step to you before it happens.

  • The doctor will put on a surgical glove and will cover a finger in lubricant.

  • The finger will be inserted in a downwards angle as if pointing to the umbilicus (belly button). You may feel a little pressure, but there shouldn't be any pain or discomfort. If it hurts, tell the doctor immediately.

  • A few seconds may elapse as the doctor waits for the external sphincter muscle to relax.

  • You may be aware of some movement of the finger before it is removed.

  • The doctor will probably tell you he is going to remove his finger and then offer you some tissue or pre-moistened wipes to clean off the lubricant.

What the Doctor Is Looking For
The doctor moves his finger in a circular motion in order to identify the lobes and groove of the prostate gland. A normal sized prostate gland is around 2-4 cm long and triangular in shape. He would also expect the prostate to feel firm and rubbery.

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