Ah, the beloved DRE—digital rectal exam. As it happens, it’s the most convenient method for a doctor to cop a feel of the prostate to determine its size, its texture, and its potential lumpiness. It provides one of very few diagnostic clues for prostate cancer, so we put up with it. But—and I think I can speak for nearly all DRE recipients—we don’t especially like it, at least not at first.
…the dreaded DRE can be … dreadful. Luckily, there are some tricks that can make it not only less so, but even borderline delightful…
Once a year? Twice a year? Whatever the frequency, the dreaded DRE can be … DREadful. Luckily, there are some tricks that can make it not only less so, but even borderline delightful! Believe it or not, many of us who use a few simple tricks of the trade actually look forward to our next DRE. No way? Yes, way.
Like any worthwhile endeavor, advance preparation is needed, and in this case a proper diet is at the top of the list. Remember, the “digit” enters via the same pathway from which your stool exits. It stands to reason that if your diet results in a rough ride on the way out, it will likely be a tough trip on the way in, too. So beginning a week before the exam, make sure your diet promotes a smooth entry and slick exit. Any of the usual foods recommended by expert dietitians to promote soft stools should be fine. You know, the nasty high fiber stuff.
But why not blaze some new trails and experiment with foods that seem intuitively promising—the good-tasting high slickness stuff? For breakfast, you can enjoy some crisp bacon, but be sure to save the grease. Mix it into a nice hot, bowl of slippery oatmeal (resist the temptation to substitute gritty grits, but it’s okay to pretend). The bacon grease will enhance the oatmeal’s flavor and more importantly, its texture.
For lunch, include a side of fried okra or succotash. If you are not from the south (or at least a transplanted Yankee) you might not know that okra is nature’s WD-40. At dinnertime you can prepare a hearty gumbo or any dish including okra, the champion of all slippery foods. Sliced avocado on the side also works well, and bananas are great for a slick snack. If this diet won’t do a good job greasing the skids, nothing will.
Might work. Might not. Worth a try, and it’ll taste good.
The day before
…avoid all solid food. There is nothing worse than two trains heading toward each other on the same track.
On the day before the DRE you might be wise to avoid all solid food. There is nothing worse than two trains heading toward each other on the same track. On a one-lane highway, there should only be one vehicle traveling at a time, and on DRE day it must be the doctor’s digit heading north, not the corn dog you had for lunch heading south. Try some Greek yogurt. You might like it, and Greece needs your support.
Also on the day before the exam, you should do some direct conditioning. At least hourly, relax your rectal muscles while closing your eyes and humming softly at your most natural pitch. Continue this for at least several minutes each time. Following any bowel movement, put three drops of household machine oil or EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) on the paper and wipe gently in alternating directions (i.e., forward, backward, forward, backward, up, down, up, down, etc.). If no natural movements occur, wipe in this manner every four hours regardless. Again, it might not help but it will feel good.
A final tip
This is important. Ten days before your exam send your doctor an anonymous gift certificate for a manicure. Mark your calendar, and be absolutely certain to specify that the certificate expires the day before your exam. Nothing ruins the experience like a rough edge or a hangnail, so this will be the perfect finishing touch on your preparation.
Do you have some tips for getting great DREs? Share them with me and the rest of the world by replying below. Thanks!See Ron's 2023 book!available now on Amazon Already read it?Review it now on Amazon
My solution is a slim female medical practitioner. I know this may sound like it has sexual connotations, but it doesn’t. She will have thinner digits than most males and entry is easier to bear.
Slender digits. Makes sense to me, Dan!
Stool softener (Colase)and lots of H2O !!!
Sounds like insider information, Jim. You must be a pharmacist.
I can attest to this. The best 45 minutes I’ve ever spent with an MD was with one of the female persuasion. This lady, perhaps in retribution for all those pelvic exams, put me in the stirrups for the DRE. She said it was easier for her and gave her better leverage or something. I enjoyed it far more than I should have.
Ah, so leverage is the key. Before my next DRE I will be sure to ask, “Hey, doc! How’s your leverage been so far today?