The top three most feared health checks for men

How to make invasive testing procedures slightly more bearable.

prostate exam

Many Australian men delay or even skip crucial health screenings such as prostate exams, colonoscopies or endoscopies for one simple reason: fear. Overcoming your dread of these tests can literally save your life so we have some tips to minimise your discomfort when you get all squeamish or embarrassed.

Prostate exams
The main way to check for any prostate problems or early warning signs for prostate cancer is through a digital rectal examination (DRE) at your doctor’s office. The idea of being probed in a doctor’s office makes many men uncomfortable, particularly if it is the first time they have submitted to the procedure. The most important thing to do before the prostate check is try and stay as relaxed as possible. If you are anxious about the test take some deep breaths and try and shift your focus to more pleasant thoughts. Tell your doctor if you are particularly nervous and they can tell you what they are doing at each step of the procedure, which may help calm your nerves.

The Cancer Council has more information about prostate cancer detection.

Another health check that many men fear also involves probing the bum – colonoscopies. This procedure allows your doctor to look for polyps or other precancerous growths in your colon and remove them. While the thought of having a long flexible tube with a tiny camera on the end inserted into your rectum is not pleasant, it is important to note that you will be sedated throughout the procedure.

Another thing that often puts people off having colonoscopies is the colon-clearing preparation you have to go through before the test. After being on a 24-hour clear liquid diet, you must drink two-three litres of a salty prep liquid at least seven hours before the exam. The drink will make you empty your bowels repeatedly, until there is nothing but clear liquid coming out. You can try a couple of things to make the colonoscopy experience less uncomfortable.

Firstly, you can get a head start on emptying your bowels by eating smaller, lighter meals in the lead-up to your test. The less you have in your gut, the easier the cleansing process will be. Secondly, try and make your appointment for the afternoon, rather than the morning. That way you can drink the prep mixture on the day of the examination rather than suffering from an interrupted sleep due to taking some of the mixture at night and constantly running to the toilet.

All the horror of having a long tube and camera inserted into your body, just at the other end of proceedings. An endoscopy sees the scope inserted down your oesophagus to investigate your stomach and the start of the small intestine. It can examine symptoms such as chronic reflux, swallowing difficulty and upper abdominal pain. Just as with a colonoscopy, patients are sedated during the procedure, but many people have a fear that they will gag or vomit when the scope is inserted, such a reaction is very unusual, but having a sore throat after the procedure is quite common. If your throat is sore afterwards try eating soft foods such as soup, yoghurt and jelly for the rest of the day.



    To make a comment, please register or login
    12th Jun 2017
    There's nothing to be afraid of in any of those procedures. I've found in recent years that some GPs don't do the digital prostate exam and only do the blood test. I don't go to those ones as that is not good enough. i go to an excellent female doctor who does the digital job and ensures all blood tests are done and she is very proactive with any suspect result. last year i started going to her because the bloke I had been visiting was going to "monitor" a low GFR (that's to do with kidney function). i changed to this lady doc, she immediately sent me off for an ultrasound and then to urologist who found I had an aggressive retail cancer. Surgery got rid of the cancer and all monitoring since show no cancer in me. So don't be afraid of any of these checks - better to have them than throw away your life. better to change doctors, too, if you are doubtful about their diagnoses.
    12th Jun 2017
    angiogram----hate the thought of a tube going into the groin artery,been offered it in hospital and the chinese doctor said we may have difficulty stopping the bleeding,no thanks!!
    13th Jun 2017
    That should only be a risk if you are on blood thinners, have a type of haemophillia, bleed easily if you get a scratch or cut. or have low iron levels.
    13th Jun 2017
    I find it mind boggling that doctors should continue to bang on about having blood tests for prostrate cancer. (the holy PSA test)
    Here is a choice piece of gobble-de-gook from the related article: "Detect Prostrate cancer early" from above.

    < Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test
    PSA is a protein produced by prostate cells. Elevated levels may indicate that you have cancer, but you can still have a high level and be cancer-free. You can also display a normal PSA but still have prostate cancer. This is a blood test. >
    If the test is so uselessly indeterminate, either positive or negative, why the bloody hell do doctors request it???
    If it turns out to be positive then they command that you have a biopsy which can put you in hospital for a week with a serious infection. Only to find that the positive test was false!!!
    Its fantastic for doctors they get their large fees either way.

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