What is prostatitis?

Prostatitis refers to four different conditions that affect the prostate gland. Two types of prostatitis are linked to urinary tract infections (UTIs). Other types are not. Men with prostatitis may have infection, inflammation and/or pain. Adult men of any age can get prostatitis.

Many men who are told they have prostatitis are misdiagnosed and actually have a different condition. There’s a lot of outdated information about prostatitis. It’s important to see a healthcare provider who is up to date on the latest prostatitis research, diagnostic tests and treatments.

What is the prostate gland?

The prostate gland is part of the male reproductive system. It sits below your bladder, in front of the rectum. The urethra (tube that carries urine and semen out of the body) runs through the center of the gland.

How common is prostatitis?

Half of all men have symptoms of prostatitis at some point in their lives. It’s the most common urinary tract issue in men younger than 50. In men over 50, it’s the third most common. More than two million men see a healthcare provider every year for prostatitis symptoms.

What are the types of prostatitis?

Types of prostatitis include:

  • Acute bacterial prostatitis (category 1): A UTI causes an infection in the prostate gland. Symptoms include fever and chills. You may experience painful and frequent urination or have trouble urinating. Acute bacterial prostatitis requires immediate medical treatment.
  • Chronic bacterial prostatitis (category 2): Bacteria become trapped in the prostate gland, causing recurrent UTIs that are difficult to treat.
  • Chronic pelvic pain syndrome, or CPPS (category 3): CPPS is the most common prostatitis type. Prostate gland inflammation occurs in approximately 1 out of 3 men. As the name implies, this type causes chronic pain in the pelvis, perineum (the area between the scrotum and rectum) and genitals.
  • Asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis (category 4): This condition causes prostate gland inflammation but no symptoms. You may learn you have this condition after getting tests to find the cause of other problems. For example, a semen analysis for infertility may detect asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis. This type doesn’t need treatment.

Is prostatitis a sign of prostate cancer?

Prostatitis is benign (not cancerous). It doesn’t increase your risk of prostate cancer. However, inflammation from prostatitis sometimes raises the level of prostate-specific antigens (PSA) in blood — just like prostate cancer does. Further tests can help determine what’s causing elevated PSA levels.

What are the complications of prostatitis?

Men with acute bacterial prostatitis may develop sepsis. This widespread inflammation can be life-threatening. It requires immediate medical treatment.

Antibiotics can cause an upset stomach. Men with chronic bacterial prostatitis may need lots of antibiotics to treat recurring infections. Some people develop antibiotic resistance, making treatment ineffective.

Asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis can lower sperm count, affecting fertility.

What causes prostatitis?

Different types of prostatitis have different causes. Risk factors for chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CPPS), the most common type, aren’t clear. Potential contributors to CPPS include:

  • Autoimmune diseases.
  • Pelvic floor muscle spasms.
  • Stress.

Potential causes of bacterial forms of prostatitis include:

  • Bladder infections or bladder stones.
  • Surgery or biopsy requiring use of a urinary catheter.
  • Prostate stones.
  • Urinary retention (not emptying the bladder completely).
  • UTIs.

What are the symptoms of prostatitis?

Prostatitis symptoms vary depending on the type and cause. People with asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis don’t have any symptoms.

Men with chronic pelvic pain syndrome or chronic bacterial prostatitis may experience:

  • Pain in the penis, testicles or perineum (area between the testicles and rectum). The pain may radiate to the lower back.
  • Frequent urge to urinate.
  • Painful urination (dysuria).
  • Weak urine flow or urine stream that starts and stops.
  • Painful ejaculation or pain during intercourse.
  • Blood in semen (hematospermia).
  • Erectile dysfunction.

Acute bacterial prostatitis causes a fever and chills.

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