Last Updated: September 11, 2017

Prostatitis

Overview

Prostatitis is an infection or inflammation of the prostate gland, a walnut-sized gland located just under the bladder in men. Its job is to produce prostatic fluid, which, as a major component of semen, serves to nourish and transport sperm. When the prostate is swollen or enlarged, its lobes can compress the urethra, causing problems with urination and sexual function.

Prostatitis is quite common, affecting five to nine percent of men in their lifetimes. It occurs in men of all ages, but is most common in young and middle-aged men.

Prostatitis occurs in four types:

Causes and Risk Factors

Lateral view of prostate

Bacterial prostatitis usually occurs when urine infected with bacteria flows backward through the ducts connecting the urethra and prostate gland. This is most common during or just after a urinary tract infection. Trauma to the pelvic area due to medical procedures or activities like cycling can increase the risk of bacterial infection.

Bacterial prostatitis can become chronic if antibiotics fail to kill all the bacteria in the prostate. Sometimes medicines can’t penetrate deeply enough into the prostate tissue to reach all the bacteria. Some types of bacteria are also more resistant to antibiotics than others.

The medical community is not sure exactly what causes abacterial prostatitis. In many cases, it seems to be due to an infection that tests can’t detect. Other possible causes include pelvic muscle spasms due to a nervous system disorder or persistent immune reaction to an injury or previous infection.

Symptoms

Symptoms of prostatitis are nonspecific, meaning they’re shared by many other diseases, including serious ones like prostate cancer. For this reason, it is important to seek medical help promptly.

Common symptoms include:

In addition, bacterial prostatitis may cause flu-like symptoms, including fever, chills and muscle aches.

Diagnosis

Cross-section of prostate and male urinary anatomy

Some types of prostatitis are difficult to diagnose. For this reason, men may benefit from consulting a urologist, a doctor who specializes in urinary and male reproductive health.

Common diagnostics include:

Abacterial prostatitis is a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning other causes must be ruled out. To do so, the doctor may order additional tests such as MRI, cystoscopy, ultrasound and biopsy.

Treatment

Antibiotics

Acute bacterial prostatitis can be effectively treated with antibiotics. Usually oral antibiotics suffice, but intravenous antibiotics may be necessary in severe cases. Therapy lasts two to four weeks.

Chronic bacterial prostatitis is treated with a longer course of antibiotics, typically eight to 12 weeks. For men with recurring infections, the doctor may prescribe low-dose antibiotic therapy for up to six months.

Antibiotics are sometimes effective even when tests show no signs of bacteria. For this reason, they are also often prescribed as the first line of treatment for chronic abacterial prostatitis.

Most acute bacterial prostatitis cases and about 75 percent of chronic bacterial prostatitis cases clear up completely with antibiotic therapy.

Other Treatment Methods

When prostatitis can’t be cured with antibiotics, the goal of treatment shifts to symptom management. Most men continue their normal activities with treatment and a few accommodations.

Prevention

It is unknown whether prostatitis can be prevented, but the following tips may help to reduce your risk:

Sources

Related Topics

Authored by: Sarah Maurer