Back view of African woman dressed in a bikini sitting on a boat

What is a Rectal Examination?

 What is a rectal examination?

It is an examination conducted by a trained professional to assess the anus and rectum. 

A lady of African origin dressed in a bikini while sitting on a boat.
Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

It is used to diagnose conditions like haemorrhoids and some other problems of the anus and rectum.   

In men, it can also be used to examine the prostate which (from its location) is best assessed by examining the back passage.

How is a Rectal Examination performed?

A rectal examination is usually performed with a gloved examining finger.

It can be uncomfortable, but not necessarily painful – except there are already injuries to the anus/ rectum or other diseases resulting in pain. 

You should have the procedure explained to you by your clinician.

Your permission (consent) should be obtained before the examination.

You should also be offered a chaperone.

If one is not offered, ask for one; or attend with a trusted relative/ friend.

  Next, the Doctor will ask you to remove the lower half of your clothing. 

You will be asked to lie on your side on the examination couch facing away from the Doctor.

You will also be requested to bend your knees up to your chest which makes the examination easier and less distressing for you. 

Findings at the rectal examination

First, the Doctor will take some time to observe the anus for any abnormalities. 

Using lubricating gel, they will gently insert the gloved finger to feel around the anus and the rectum which is immediately next to the anus. 

They may ask you to squeeze the finger with your anus to check for the tone of the muscle which controls the opening and closing of the anus.

They will then move the finger around within the anus and rectum to complete the examination and assess the prostate gland.

After the examination ends, you would be provided with some privacy to adjust your clothing.

The examination may reveal injuries to the anus.

Other possible findings are haemorrhoids (piles); or problems with the prostate gland.

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