What tests might I have at the GP surgery?
Your GP will ask about your symptoms, how long you’ve had them, whether they are getting worse over time, and how they are affecting your life.
Before you visit your GP, you might want to think about how often you’ve had symptoms over the last month. This may help you explain your symptoms to your GP. You might also want to keep a diary of how much you drink and how often you urinate.
Your GP will check whether your symptoms might be caused by another health problem, such as diabetes, or by any medicines you are taking, such as blood pressure medicines, anti-depressants or herbal medicines.
They will also check whether your symptoms could be caused by your lifestyle – for example, if you often drink large amounts of fluid, alcohol, or drinks containing caffeine (such as tea, coffee or cola).
Your GP may ask you to keep a diary for a few days to check how much you are drinking, what type of drinks you have, how much urine you pass, and how often and at what times you urinate. A diary can help your doctor to work out what may be causing your symptoms and how to treat them.
Your GP may ask you for a urine sample to check for blood or any infection that could be causing your symptoms. You may need to give more than one sample. If you have an infection your GP will give you a course of antibiotics.
You may be offered a blood test to check your kidneys are working properly. You may also be offered a prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test. PSA is a protein produced by cells in your prostate. If the PSA level is raised, there may be a problem with your prostate. An enlarged prostate can cause the amount of PSA in your blood to rise. Age, infection, inflammation and prostate cancer can also make your PSA level rise.
Your GP may examine your abdomen (stomach area) and penis. They may also feel your prostate through the wall of the back passage (rectum). This is called a digital rectal examination (DRE).
During a DRE, the doctor or nurse will ask you to lie on your side on an examination table, with your knees brought up towards your chest. The doctor or nurse will slide a finger gently into your back passage. They’ll wear gloves and put some gel on their finger to make it more comfortable.
The doctor or nurse will feel your prostate for any hard or irregular areas and to get an idea of its size. If your prostate is larger than expected for your age, this could be a sign of an enlarged prostate. You may find the DRE slightly uncomfortable or embarrassing, but the test isn’t usually painful and it doesn’t take long.