More Bearable Rectal Exams

August 1, 2006

A tip to help make rectal examinations easier on your patients.

To make rectal examinations less uncomfortable, tell patients to bear down (as though they are having a bowel movement) just before you insert your lubricated finger into the rectum. Reassure them that they will not pass any stool with your finger in the way. Then ask them to relax as you withdraw your finger. Very few patients report any discomfort when examined in this manner.

- Terry R. Nye, MD
   Kingsport, Tenn