Ellen: My prostate exam came completely out of the blue. I had visited an urgent care clinic because of a sinus infection.
When the doctor came in, he did the usual vital signs stuff, had me lie on the table, checking my abdomen, legs, ankles (fully clothed, by the way).
Then he said he would like to give me a rectal exam.
I was completely surprised. First of all, I was 50 years old, and had never had a prostate exam. Now, when I was just expecting to get some antibiotics, the doctor tells me he wants to give me a rectal exam. I was totally mentally unprepared for this, and I was completely embarrassed because I didn't know what to say.
Since I was caught off guard, I immediately said: "Maybe next time". And he said "Alright".
Then it occurred to me that I was at that age that I should be getting my prostate checked, so I told him I had changed my mind, and he could go ahead and do it.
It was more or less what I had expected, dropping my pants, having him palpate my testicles and penis, and then bending over the exam table. It was quick, just a bit uncomfortable (I jumped when he started to push his finger in, and he kept apologizing), but the worst part for me was having him take a tissue and wipe my butt. It just seemed a little too intimate for me.
But, anyway, the point is: you DO have the right to say NO to a rectal exam (or any exam, for that matter). Most people are afraid of questioning their doctor, though. Fortunately, I am not one of them.