The Human Condition: Doctors were too squeamish to help my son, says Margaret Winfield

I was dismayed to read the recent Real Life feature on intimate examinations, particularly the section on the reluctance of male doctors to carry out rectal or testicle examinations on other men.

Our son has recently been diagnosed as having prostatitis, having been misdiagnosed over a period of several years. He underwent an appendectomy as a result of one wrong diagnosis and one specialist told us that if our son still suffered pain thereafter, we should get "the mind doctors to look at him". Eventually, after a scan had revealed the nature of his condition, our son's urologist has said that the only treatment he can offer on the NHS is painkillers or the removal of the prostate, which results in infertility. Our son has just turned 20. At no time during our son's attempts to find out what was wrong did his urologist perform a rectal examination, which I now understand is necessary in order to establish the presence of infection in the prostate.

When I tried the Internet for information, I read of Dr AE Feliciano of Manila, who runs a clinic for prostatitis sufferers (http://www.prostate.org). Dr Feliciano's method involves massaging the prostate (yes, via the rectum!) every other day in order to drain blocked ducts that have become infected. Cultures are taken of the resulting fluid and appropriate medication can then be given. Prostate drainage is continued until the patient is free of symptoms. Apparently, there are American patients who have actually devised a workable (if acrobatic!) DIY technique and have had the confidence to post their success on the Internet (http://www.prostate.org/doityourself.html). I don't suppose there is much chance of us finding a UK practitioner of Dr Feliciano's methods, but we are going to try, before our son is driven by the constant pain to accept surgery as his only hope of relief. I would welcome any information on this (c/o Real Life).

Can it really be possible thatthousands of Western men are condemned to unnecessary, irreversible and expensive surgery because of doctors' embarrassment and distaste?

Readers who have had a similar experience are invited to write to Real Life at the Independent on Sunday, I Canada Square, London E14 5DL.

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