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Prostatitis occurs when a man’s prostate gland becomes infected or inflamed. The prostate is a walnut-sized organ below the bladder and in front of the rectum. It produces seminal fluid, the substance that carries sperm.

Prostatitis occurs in men of all ages, according to the National Institute for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease. It affects 10 to 15 percent of men in the United States.

Prostatitis doesn’t lead to prostate cancer. Still, it can be uncomfortable and sometimes serious. Doctors can’t always cure prostatitis, but they can treat it.

Types of Prostatitis

There are four kinds of prostatitis.

Chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome

Chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS) is the most common type of prostatitis. Doctors don’t always know what causes it.

In CP/CPPS, inflammation in the prostate irritates the nerves and muscles in the pelvis, causing pain. The pain may be in the pelvic floor, genitals, lower back, or abdomen. The condition can come and go over a period of months or years.

Signs that you have CP/CPPS:

  • Pain and discomfort in the pelvic area lasting longer than three months
  • Pain during or after ejaculation
  • Pain during or after urinating
  • Urinating often (more than eight times a day)
  • Urinary urgency (inability to delay urination)

Chronic bacterial prostatitis

Bacterial infection of the prostate causes this type of prostatitis. The bacteria travels from the urethra into the prostate. Sometimes it follows a urinary tract infection (UTI).

Symptoms may be mild and take months to develop. After that, they may come and go.

Signs of chronic bacterial prostatitis include:

  • Urinary frequency
  • Urinary urgency
  • Having to urinate several times each night
  • Burning feeling during urination
  • Pain in groin, genital area, lower back, or lower abdomen

Acute bacterial prostatitis

This is the least common type of prostatitis, but the most serious. It shares the same symptoms as chronic prostatitis but comes on fast and is more severe.

Additional signs of acute bacterial prostatitis include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Body aches
  • Inability to urinate

Acute bacterial prostatitis is a severe condition. You should seek medical care immediately if you have symptoms. Not treating it right away can bring on sepsis, a blood infection that can lead to death.

Asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis

Some men experience prostatitis with no symptoms. They usually find out they have it during a blood test for prostate health. You don’t need treatment for asymptomatic prostatitis.

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Risk Factors for Prostatitis

Prostatitis is not contagious or transmitted through sex. However, having a sexually transmitted infection can raise your risk of an inflamed prostate.

Other conditions or previous medical procedures can also increase your chances of getting prostatitis. These include:

  • A recent urinary tract infection
  • An infection from a catheter
  • An enlarged prostate gland
  • A recent pelvic injury
  • A recent prostate biopsy
  • Psychological stress

How Will My Doctor Know I Have Prostatitis?

Your doctor will ask you about your health history and your current symptoms.

They will do a physical exam that includes putting a gloved finger in your rectum to feel your prostate. If you have prostatitis, the prostate is tender and soft.

Your doctor will do urine tests to see if bacteria are present. They may also order blood tests, CT scans, or ultrasounds of the pelvis.

What is the Treatment for Prostatitis?

Doctors treat bacterial prostatitis (chronic or acute) with antibiotics. You’ll take them for six to 12 weeks.

Antibiotics don’t work on CP/CPPS because bacteria do not cause this condition. Your doctor may prescribe medicine to control your pain and reduce inflammation.

Here are some other treatments for CP/CPPS:

  • Special prostatic massage can help ease painful pressure in the prostate. A trained physiotherapist drains fluid from the prostate ducts and massages the gland.
  • Biofeedback can help reduce tension in the pelvic floor. Signals from monitors teach you how to control your body and relax certain muscles.
  • Physical therapy includes myofascial release and pelvic floor exercises.
  • At-home treatments like hot baths, hot water bottles, and heating pads can lessen pelvic pain.

Surgery is rarely used to treat prostatitis.

Sources

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Prostatitis: Inflammation of the Prostate. Link.

Urology Care Foundation, What are Prostatitis and Related Chronic Pelvic Pain Conditions? Link.

U.S. National Library of Medicine, Prostatitis – bacterial. Link.

Prostate Cancer Foundation, Prostatitis, what is it? Link.

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