A prostate exam is important for all men, especially as you start to get older. While the exam may feel uncomfortable, it can be incredibly useful in the early detection of prostate cancer. This can help to prevent the spreading and worsening of the cancer.

When doctors note growths or abnormalities during a prostate exam, they will start to run a few tests. This may include imaging tests, and when they do make concerning findings on the results, they may refer you for a prostate biopsy. While fear may suddenly set in once you learn you must undergo a prostate biopsy, it’s important to understand the role that the procedure plays.

Knowing what a prostate biopsy procedure entails and how the procedure works can help you better prepare yourself. We take a closer look at how it works, what you should expect, and what happens after the biopsy.

What is Prostate Biopsy? How Does it Work?

A biopsy is a type of surgery where a small sample is removed from tissue in your body. It’s usually done when doctors want to rule out the potential for cancer. In a prostate biopsy, doctors will perform a small surgical procedure to remove a small tissue sample from the site where they expect the cancer to be located.

Your prostate is a small gland that is important for nourishing sperm. It also plays a role in transporting sperm. In most cases, a needle is used to help in the collection of tissue samples from your prostate[1]. You will usually need to visit a urologist if you need to undergo a prostate biopsy.

The idea is to obtain tissue that may be cancerous and have it studied and analyzed by a lab technician. Once the tissue is removed through the needle, the doctor will place it into a special tube before sending it off to a laboratory for testing.

How to Prepare for a Prostate Biopsy

It is important to understand how you can best prepare for a prostate biopsy. Even though the procedure itself is rather simple, there are still a couple of steps that you may need to follow before your appointment with your urologist.

First, be sure to have an appointment with the urologist before the day of the procedure. Your urologist will be able to provide you with specific steps that you need to take. They also need to determine your risk of an infection following the prostate biopsy.

If you are taking certain medications, then you may need to step on them shortly before you go in for the procedure. This may include medications that thin your blood, as they can increase the risk of bleeding. Be sure to provide your doctor with a full list of the medications you take, as this will ensure they have a better idea about what drugs could potentially cause interference or increase the risk of complications.

Your doctor may also advise you not to eat or drink anything a couple of hours before the procedure.

It is important to closely follow any instructions that your doctor gives you for the preparation of the prostate biopsy. This is because prostate biopsy preparation can help to reduce the risk of complications and make you feel more at ease when you undergo the procedure.

When Do People Need a Prostate Biopsy?

Undergo a prostate biopsy

There are a couple of scenarios where your doctor may advise you to undergo a prostate biopsy. They will usually only deem this particular procedure necessary if they have reason to suspect the possibility of prostate cancer.

If you undergo a digital rectal exam and your doctor makes suspicious findings, then it may cause them to order a prostate biopsy. This suspicious finding may include enlargement or growth. If your PSA levels[2] are found to be elevated after your doctor orders blood tests, then they may also want to investigate this further.

There are other tests that your doctor may also perform prior to a biopsy. When they do suspect cancerous tumours or cells in your prostate, then a biopsy can help them get more accurate results.

If you have benign prostatic hyperplasia, then you may not need a prostate biopsy. In this case, you can consider using supplements like Prostara to support prostate health.

Prostate Biopsy Procedure

Since there are two types of procedures, it’s important to understand how they work and what you should expect. Knowing what to expect during the prostate biopsy makes you feel more prepared, as you have a better idea of what is going to happen

In most cases, this procedure is done in what is known as an outpatient setting. This means you do not need to be admitted to a hospital before a urologist can perform the biopsy. It may be done in the urologist’s office or in an outpatient facility.

During the procedure, your doctor will ask you to either lie on your side or on your stomach. An antiseptic solution is used on either your rectum or the skin between your scrotum and anus. The specific area where the doctor will perform the procedure depends on the type of prostate biopsy they decide to perform.

Your doctor will proceed to insert the needle into your prostate gland. This can be done from the wall of your rectum or through a small cut that the urologist makes on the skin between the scrotum and the anus.

Once the needle reaches the prostate gland, the doctor will start to collect small pieces of tissue samples. They will usually collect the samples from specific areas of your prostate gland in order to get more precise results when they perform a lab test with the tissue later on.

If you need to undergo a prostate biopsy, you can expect the procedure to last anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. Various factors, including the doctor performing the procedure, the technique that is being used, and whether any complications develop, will affect how long it takes.

How Does a Prostate Biopsy Procedure Work?

The main goal of a prostate biopsy is to collect tissue samples from your prostate gland. Your urologist places them into a testing tube and seals it. They will then have the sample transported to a laboratory for further testing.

At the laboratory, lab technicians will then analyse the samples underneath a microscope. This will allow these technicians to look for signs of cancerous cells within the tissues that the urologist removed when they performed the biopsy.

Following an investigation into the tissue samples, the lab sends feedback to the urologist who submitted the samples to them. Your doctor can then contact you to deliver the results and to talk about any further treatments that might be needed.

Types of Prostate Biopsy Procedures

There are actually different types of prostate biopsies that a urologist can do. A couple of things are taken into consideration before they decide on the specific biopsy type in order to ensure they can provide you with accurate results.

The two main prostate biopsy options[3] that urologists and related specialists can turn to include:

  • Transperineal Biopsy: In this particular biopsy, the doctor will make a cut between the anus and the scrotum. The cut is usually very small, and it creates a space where the doctor can push the needle through. This allows the doctor to effectively reach the prostate gland in order to collect a tissue sample. You should note that this particular type of prostate biopsy is less common than the other type.
  • Transrectal Biopsy: When you need to undergo a prostate biopsy, this type will usually be the one the urologist uses. In this particular procedure, your doctor will actually insert the needle into your prostate gland from the rectum. This also allows the doctor to obtain tissue samples without having to make a cut in your skin.

Risks and Complications

Most cases of a prostate biopsy carry low risks. In most cases, the procedure tends to cause some discomfort for a while, but this goes away within a few hours after you are released from the outpatient setting.

There are, however, some situations where complications develop. Pain and bleeding are the most common complications and risks associated with prostate biopsies. If bleeding occurs, the doctor may keep you in the office for a while to monitor this complication and ensure it does not cause problems.

Some men may develop an infection at the site where the needle was inserted. In this case, you’ll need antibiotics to help treat the infection. If you are at a high risk of infection, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics following the procedure to prevent infectious diseases from developing.

Another potential risk that you carry with a prostate biopsy is erection problems. This is quite rare, but still, something to keep in mind when you need to undergo the procedure.

What to Expect During a Prostate Biopsy

During the actual procedure, you should expect at least some discomfort. The level of discomfort and what happens during the procedure is not always the same for every man. If you are afraid of the pain that may occur during the procedure, ask your doctor about a local anesthetic.

In cases where you feel nervous about surgical procedures, talk with your urologist about the use of a sedative to help you feel more relaxed throughout the biopsy.

What to Expect After a Prostate Biopsy

It is also important to note what you should expect after the procedure. The discomfort will likely remain present for a while. Additionally, you may experience a burning sensation while you urinate. Some men may have difficulty urinating or experience other urination problems after the biopsy. Fortunately, this usually only lasts for a couple of days.

Prostate Biopsy Recovery

Most cases of a prostate biopsy do not require you to stay at the hospital. You’ll be discharged on the same day, but you should try to avoid any activity that may cause problems. Strenuous activities should be avoided for at least a couple of days. You should also drink enough water, as this can help to support flushing out blood that could have ended up in your urinary tract.

Side Effects After Recovery

Prostate biopsy hurt

The majority of side effects that happen during recovery are temporary. This may include continued bleeding and pain. Erectile problems can also develop and should go away in a short while. There are management strategies for bleeding[4] that continue for too long.

If you have signs of infection, then be sure to contact your doctor. They may ask you to come in for a checkup and prescribe antibiotics.

It is also important that you notify your doctor of any lingering or severe side effects. If your erectile function does not return to normal a few days after the prostate biopsy, then this is also a cause for concern. An examination by your urologist can help shed more light on the situation and help you understand what is happening.

Frequently Asked Questions

How painful is a prostate biopsy?

It comes down to the individual and the specific procedure that the physician uses to collect the sample from the prostate. Some people only experience some discomfort, while others complain about severe pain.

Does prostate biopsy hurt?

Yes, in some men, a prostate biopsy can hurt during and after the procedure. Pain medication can usually help to reduce the symptoms.

How accurate is a prostate biopsy?

There are several things that can affect the accuracy of a prostate biopsy. This includes the doctor’s skill, the biopsy type, and where the cancer is located in the prostate gland.

Can prostate biopsy spread cancer?

Only an extremely small chance of cancer spreading is found in men who undergo a prostate biopsy.


There are times when a prostate biopsy is necessary to make a more accurate diagnosis of cancer. If you feel overwhelmed by the idea, take a deep breath and learn more about the procedure itself. In many cases, this procedure can help to ensure your prostate cancer is diagnosed early on. The earlier doctors start to implement treatment for prostate cancer, the better the prognosis in several situations. While the procedure itself may be painful, anesthetics can be used to reduce sensations, and during recovery, pain should only remain for a couple of hours.