What Is Prostatitis?
The prostate is a small
gland located under the bladder in men. It produces a fluid that makes up
between 50 and 75 percent of semen (which also contains spermatazoa and seminal
vesicle fluid). Prostatitis is inflammation of that gland. The inflammation may
spread to the area around the prostate.
Types of Prostatitis
There are different types
- Chronic prostatitis
is the most common form of the condition (Urology Care Foundation). The cause is not known. Unlike other forms of
prostatitis, it is not caused by bacteria.
- Acute bacterial
prostatitis develops suddenly, due to a bacterial infection. Although it is the
least common type of prostatitis, it is easy to diagnose because of the
severity of symptoms.
- Chronic bacterial
prostatitis comes on slower than acute bacterial prostatitis. Symptoms tend to
be milder, but they reoccur.
inflammatory prostatitis does not cause symptoms, even though there is
What Causes Prostatitis?
Bacterial prostatitis is
caused by different types of bacteria. These bacteria can also cause a bladder
infection. A common cause in men older than 35 is E. coli. Sexually transmitted
diseases including gonorrhea and chlamydia can also cause bacterial
An injury to the prostate
or a disorder of the nervous system or immune system can also cause prostatitis.
In many cases, the exact cause of chronic prostatitis is not found.
Who Is at Risk for Prostatitis?
Although men of any age can
develop prostatitis, being over the age of 50 with an enlarged prostate
increases your chances. Other factors can increase your risk. For instance,
having a urinary catheter increases risk. Bladder infections, pelvic trauma, and
past bouts of prostatitis increase risk.
Having unprotected sex and
being HIV positive also increase your chances of developing a form of
prostatitis (Medline Plus).
What Are the Symptoms of Prostatitis?
Symptoms vary depending on
whether the condition is acute or chronic. Men with acute bacterial prostatitis
may develop symptoms including bladder pain, difficulty with urination, low
back pain, chills, and fever.
Men with chronic
prostatitis, whether it is bacterial or not, will often have the same symptoms,
but they will be less severe.
Some men may also have
foul-smelling urine, pain in the testicles, and painful ejaculation.
In cases of asymptomatic
inflammatory prostatitis, a man will not have any symptoms. The condition is
often found during a physical exam or a visit to a doctor for another reason (Mayo Clinic).
How Is Prostatitis Diagnosed?
It is important for a
doctor to make sure the symptoms are due to prostatitis and not another
condition. Similar symptoms may develop with an enlarged prostate, cystitis, or
The type of prostatitis must
also be determined, because bacterial prostatitis and other types of
prostatitis may be treated differently.
If symptoms are present, a doctor
will perform a physical exam, including a prostate exam.
The prostate is located in
front of the rectum. A digital rectal exam allows the doctor to feel the
prostate and check for enlargement.
Blood tests and urine
analysis are often performed. In some cases, a cystoscopy may be recommended. In
a cystoscopy, a small scope is inserted through the urethra, so the doctor can view
the bladder and prostate.
How Is Prostatitis Treated?
For bacterial prostatitis, a doctor will prescribe antibiotics.
The type of antibiotic and length of treatment will vary based on the type of
Pain relievers and alpha blockers may be prescribed for all
types of prostatitis. Alpha blockers reduce muscle spasms, which may develop
near the base of the bladder and cause painful urination.
Treatment may include heat therapy to reduce pain.
What Is the Outlook for Prostatitis?
Most men respond well to
treatment for acute bacterial prostatitis (Urology Care Foundation). Chronic prostatitis is harder to cure but can be
Prostatitis is often not
preventable, because the cause is often not known.
diseases can lead to prostatitis, so practicing safe sex may reduce the risk of