Prostate cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer and by the age of 80 almost all men will have developed prostate cancer at some stage. With this knowledge it is obvious why prostate exams are an essential part of a men’s health routine. We shall look at the option of self prostate exams in today’s article.
What is the difference between a self prostate exam and a professional prostate exam?
Obviously nothing compares to a professional prostate exam – as your physician is trained to know what your prostate should feel like and can quickly and easily notice any abnormalities that arise.
A self prostate exam is a very similar process to a digital rectal exam (performed by a doctor), however the only difference is the professional advice that you won’t receive from doing it yourself. However there are benefits to a self prostate exam that we shall look at below.
What are the Benefits of a Self Prostate Exam
The benefits of a self prostate exam are very similar to those for women who are recommended to check their breasts regularly.
While it is no replacement for a clinical prostate exam, it does help you become more aware and familiar with your prostate and able to notice if any abnormalities arise.
Digital rectal examinations performed by a doctor are generally only done annually – however self prostate exams can be performed as regularly as you like and in the comfort of your own home. You should never replace your clinical prostate exam with a self prostate exam, however it can complement it to give you year-round peace of mind that your prostate is healthy and is the ideal interim measure while you wait for your annual prostate exam.
If you feel a lump during your self prostate exam six months prior to your scheduled prostate exam with your doctor then you will have a 6 month jump on the treatment process that will increase your chances of survival if you are diagnosed with prostate cancer.
How can you perform a Self Prostate Exam?
Self prostate exams are very simple to perform. The prostate is located inside the rectum and is a small walnut-sized gland that can be felt with the tip of your finger when inserted into the rectum.
If you insert your finger into your rectum bend the finger tip towards your belly button and you should be able to feel a lump that is similar in texture and firmness to that of the flesh between your thumb and the rest of your hand when you make a tight fist.
When feeling the prostate, if it feels firm or hard – such as the hardness of your knuckle – then this could signal that something is wrong. Speak to your physician if this is the case so that they can perform further testing on your prostate to either diagnose or eliminate cancer as the cause.
It is up to you where and when you perform your self prostate exam – however a popular choice is in the shower where you can use soap as a lubricant. Lubricant is always a good idea to avoid causing damage to your sensitive rectum area. Other people may feel more comfortable wearing a thin latex glove.
Self Prostate Exam with a Partner
If you have a trusted and willing partner – then they can help you to perform a self prostate exam at home.
It is very easy to teach them how to perform the prostate exam – and if you have any doubts you should both speak to your physician who can describe the process in detail.
Men can usually tell when their prostate is being touched by their partner as it is very sensitive compared to the surrounding areas. It is relatively deep inside, however it is important to touch as much of the surface of the prostate as possible to cover all areas that lumps could occur.
Ask your partner to use a sweeping motion with their finger on one side and then switch to the other side to ensure you have done a thorough prostate exam.