What Happens During a Prostate Exam?

Is it true that during a prostate exam men always get an erection and must ejaculate? My husband is reluctant to have the exam because of this. Is it the truth or a rumor?

Question:

There is absolutely no truth to either statement. It's possible that a man might get an erection as a result of pulling down his pants, but considering the nature of the exam, I would think that any such erection would quickly disappear. Also, the man is facing the examining table, so any erection would not be visible to the doctor. As far as a requirement to ejaculate, there is no such thing. Tell your husband to abandon his fears and get himself checked out as soon as possible.

I encourage men over the age of 50 to have a prostate exam every year. The doctor performs this exam by placing his finger inside the man's rectum to feel for lumps or irregularities on the gland. Early diagnosis of prostate cancer -- the most common form of cancer in American men -- is the best defense against this disease. Without treatment, the cancer can spread to other organs. For more information on prostate cancer, you can visit the Web site of the American Cancer Society.

I realize this exam causes men physical and psychological discomfort, but if women can accept having their body cavities inspected, men should be able to put up with it, too. Since a rectal examination can save a man's life, there is no excuse for not having one.

Answer: