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I'm a 36 y/o male and underwent a flexible cystoscopy last week. Thought I'd register with this forum just to share my experience with other chaps who might be worried about the procedure.
Once you're prepped and ready to receive the cystoscope, the procedure, itself, lasts probably around 5 minutes, or so. The cystoscope is approximately the thickness of a pencil with a rounded end containing a flashing light. The first step involves disinfecting the area around the genitals... just a few dabs/wipes of antiseptic. This is followed by an injection of anaesthetic gel into the urethra (pee hole). The gel is injected from a syringe with no needle attached. The surgeon injects the gel with a fairly quick firm push on the syringe plunger and this feels weird and a bit uncomfortable (but not painful). The anaesthetic does sting slightly as it goes in, but it's not what I'd call painful, as such... just pretty uncomfortable for a few seconds.
In my case, the surgeon left no real time for the anaesthetic to 'work' and proceeded straight away. As it happens, the cystoscope was somewhat tangled-up and he spent about 30 seconds to a minute dealing with (which I was quietly thankful for as it probably gave a little more time for the anaesthetic to take effect). Usually, I watch needles going in and am not squirmish about things being done to me but, in this case, I had no desire to watch the cystoscope going in! Instead, I focused by attention on the video monitor, which kinda detaches you from the experience somehow. Although I could feel the cystoscope going in, I didn't feel any pain or discomfort... until the scope reached the area of the prostate. If you're having this procedure, it's likely you have possible prostate trouble and, as most prostate problems involve enlargement of the prostate, the urethra will be narrowed at this point depending on how enlarged the prostate is. I suspect how much discomfort/pain you feel at this point of the procedure will depend on how enlarged your prostate is and how much it occludes the urethra. In my case, the urethra was very narrowed as the median lobe of my prostate is enlarged (the source of my symptoms). The surgeon paused at this point and asked me to relax as though I was trying to urinate. I tried to do this, but as soon as the scope moves forwards, you naturally tense-up, which defeats the object of trying to relax in the first place! This was the most uncomfortable/painful part of the whole procedure for me. The pain was enough for me to screw my eyes up and shout 'owww' a few times, but it wasn't unbearable and only lasted a few seconds until the scope had passed the narrowing. After this, the scope enters the bladder and the surgeon has a good look around... you cannot feel this at all. In my case, my bladder was then filled with 400ml of water through the cystoscope as I was to have a flow study conducted immediately afterwards.
When the cystoscope comes out, it's a very strange feeling as you feel a bit like you're urinating (but you're not, obviously), but it's not painful. For me, the after-effects were minimal... I was anxious about urinating afterwards, but it wasn't too bad at all... some slight stinging the first couple of times, but that was all. Certainly no need for pain-killers.
All in all, the flexible cystoscopy wasn't too bad for me. It's not an experience I'd be in a rush to repeat(!), but it needed doing and it didn't last too long. I'd say it's no worse, really, than having something like a root canal at the dentist (which I've also experienced). Uncomfortable with the occasional fleeting bit of pain, but nothing too major.
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