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What is prostatitis?

Prostatitis is inflammation of the prostate gland. The prostate gland is the male sex gland that produces a fluid that is part of semen. It is about the size of a walnut and it is located under the bladder. You can get prostatitis at any age, and you may get it more than once. It may be an acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term) condition. Prostatitis is not contagious.

Male Reproductive System

What causes prostatitis?

Prostatitis may be caused by an infection or inflammation, or the cause may be unknown. An infection of the prostate may be caused by bacteria that travels in the blood or urine to the prostate. The following may increase your risk of prostatitis:

  • A urinary catheter (tube placed in your urethra to drain urine)
  • An injury to your pelvic area, such as from riding a bike or horse
  • Sexually transmitted infection (STI), such as chlamydia
  • Recent bladder infection or frequent bladder infections
  • Dehydration

What are the signs and symptoms of prostatitis?

You may have no signs or symptoms, or you may have any of the following:

  • Pain:
    • Deep pain in the area between your scrotum and anus
    • Lower back pain
    • Pain during a bowel movement
    • Pain during or right after sexual intercourse
  • Problems urinating:
    • Burning during urination
    • Feeling like you have not emptied your bladder
    • Urine does not flow right away when you start to urinate
    • Feeling the need to urinate right away
    • Frequent urination, especially at night
  • Other signs and symptoms:
    • Fever, chills, and fatigue
    • Blood in your urine or semen

How is prostatitis diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask you about your symptoms. He will do a physical exam of your prostate. Your healthcare provider may need to do blood tests to check for an infection. A urine and fluid sample from your prostate gland may also be taken and sent to the lab for tests. Your healthcare provider will need to rub the prostate gland to get the fluid sample. Your healthcare provider may also need a semen sample.

How is prostatitis treated?

Treatment of your prostatitis will depend on the cause of your prostatitis, your signs and symptoms, and other factors. Prostatitis may be treated with the following:

  • Prostate massage: Prostate massage may be used to treat chronic prostatitis. It may help decrease fullness and prevent infection.
  • Heat therapy: Place a heating pad on the prostate area to help blood flow to that area. Warm baths may decrease prostate fullness and discomfort.
  • Medicines:
    • Alpha blockers: This medicine relaxes the muscles in your prostate and bladder. It may help you urinate more easily.
    • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to help treat or prevent an infection caused by bacteria.
    • NSAIDs: These medicines decrease swelling, pain, and fever. NSAIDs are available without a doctor's order. Ask your healthcare provider which medicine is right for you. Ask how much to take and when to take it. Take as directed. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding and kidney problems if not taken correctly.
    • Pain medicine: You may be given a prescription medicine to decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take this medicine.

What are the risks of prostatitis?

Even with treatment, you may develop prostatitis again, or it may become chronic. Without treatment, you may develop an abscess (pus-filled pocket) in your prostate if you have an infection. The infection could also spread to your blood. You may have trouble urinating. Inflammation of your epididymis may develop, which can cause pain in your testicles. The epididymis is the tube that is attached to the back of the testicle.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have a fever.
  • You see blood in your urine.
  • You cannot urinate.
  • Your symptoms are getting worse, or they return after you have been treated.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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