"Self-examination, both externally and internally, is key for many body parts and the butt is no exception," says anal surgeon and founder of Future Method Evan Goldstein, DO, though he acknowledges that it's not exactly the easiest place to see (even for the most flexible people). His fix? Grab a hand mirror, or better yet, snap a selfie of your anus and zoom in for a high-definition view.
"Regardless of which method you use, first and foremost, you should understand your local anatomy," says Dr. Goldstein. "There is skin, muscle, and some blood vessels in the anal region. The reason for the exam is to catch any potential pathologies early on, as well as gain an understanding of each part’s function."
While every anus looks—and smells—different (which is why you should intimately get to know your own), there are a few things that healthy bums have in common, says Rafael A. Lugo, MD, FACS, the owner and CEO of Lugo Surgical Group.
What does a healthy butt look like?
1. A healthy anus should look like an even, circular set of "puckered lips" with clear transition between the external skin and the "anal mucosa," aka the inner lining of your anus.
2. There should be no visible cuts or lesions.
3. The mucosa should be a reddish color.
With that in mind, Dr. Lugo explains that any sort of discoloration, unevenness, bumps, or bulging could be a sign that something is wrong, particularly if the issue appear out of nowhere. If that is the case, you'll want to call up your doctor. "Seeing the anus frequently allows for us to detect a small change sooner," says Dr. Lugo. "The benefit [of checking yourself out] is early detection of curable problems, that, if left undiagnosed, can turn into a more serious issue."
While self-exams are a helpful tool, they don't take the place of a professional examination, so if you do sense that something is wrong, be sure to book an appointment with a doctor. And in the meantime, grab a hand mirror—or an iPhone—and start getting to know yourself in a whole new way.
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