Skip to Content
Home > Wellness > Health Library > Digital Rectal Exam
A digital (finger) rectal examination checks for abnormalities of
organs or other structures in the pelvis and lower abdomen. During a digital
rectal exam, a doctor inserts a lubricated, gloved finger of one
hand into the rectum and may use the other hand to press on the lower abdomen
or pelvic area.
The exam is commonly done to check the prostate gland in men and
the uterus and ovaries in women. The doctor can also feel other
structures during the exam.
A digital rectal exam is routinely done for men as part of a
complete physical exam and for women as part of a regular gynecological exam
(usually done at the time of a Pap test). The exam may also be done to help
identify the cause of symptoms such as rectal bleeding or blood in the stool,
abdominal or pelvic pain, a change in bowel habits, or urinary problems in
Current as of:
June 30, 2016
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Jimmy Ruiz, MD - Hematology, Oncology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2016 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
I Want To...
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.