How can I get my husband to have a rectal exam?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
A fellow caregiver asked...

My husband has been having a lot of pain in his rectum. He was diagnosed with a fistula years ago but he says that's not what's hurting. He won't go to the doctor. What should I do?

Expert Answers

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

This is a tough situation.  As you already know, your husband has got to go see a proctologist.  There are many things that cause rectal pain, and he needs to be examined to see what is going on back there. Since he is so uncomfortable, it is surprising he will not see someone.   Usually, pain is a strong motivator for people to seek help.  Perhaps he is afraid that he has cancer?  Or that his fistula is worse?  Try to reassure him that most rectal pain is caused by fissures or spasm, which are treatable.  Why should he suffer if he doesn't have to?

To get him to see someone, try scheduling the appointment for him.  Schedule an appointment directly with a protologist- someone who knows everything about the rectum.  Tell him you are tired of seeing him suffer, that you made an appointment for him, and that he needs to take care of himself.  Tell him that you will go with him for support.  Hopefully, this will work. Good luck!