Prostatitis is an inflammation or infection of the prostate gland. It can affect men of any age. Prostatitis is not contagious and is not transmitted during sex. The prostate is a walnut sized organ found only in men. Its main function is to produce semen, the fluid that carries sperm during ejaculation. It lies next to the bladder. Prostatitis often causes urinary symptoms because it surrounds the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of the body.
Types of prostatitis
There are different types of prostatitis, including:
- Chronic – usually non-bacterial. The most common type.
- Acute – usually bacterial. The least common, but easiest to treat.
Symptoms vary depending on the type of prostatitis and may include:
- Severe burning during urination
- Inability to empty your bladder
- Low back or groin pain
- In chronic prostatitis, the symptoms are less severe but last a longer period of time.
- In acute prostatitis, the symptoms occur suddenly and are often accompanied by fever and chills.
Bacterial prostatitis is caused by bacteria, usually from infected urine that backs up into the prostate ducts. Men who have had catheterization, injury to the area or recent bladder infection are at a greater risk.
It is not clear what causes chronic prostatitis and in most cases no cause is found.
Some contributing factors may include:
- Persistent bladder infections
- Pelvic muscle spasm
- Physical activity such as biking or heavy lifting while your bladder is full
Diagnosis involves ruling out other problems such as prostate cancer or an enlarged prostate, then determining which type of prostatitis you have.
Testing may include:
- Thorough history and physical exam
- Digital rectal exam (DRE) – your prostate is checked for size, tenderness, and texture during a rectal exam
- Urine and/or semen samples may be cultured to check for infection
- Cystoscopy a small scope is used to look into the urethra and visualize the prostate and bladder
- When all other likely causes have been ruled out, chronic prostatitis is often the diagnosis of exclusion.
Prostatitis can be treated effectively with antibiotics. Treatment can last several weeks to several months.
In order to alleviate symptoms the following may be recommended:
- Alpha blocker medications – to relax bladder muscles and improve urinary symptoms
- Muscle relaxants
- Pain relievers or anti-inflammatory medications
- Warm baths
- Relaxation techniques
- Dietary changes – avoid spicy, caffeinated and acidic foods