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Prostatitis

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Feb 9, 2024.

Overview

Prostatitis is a disorder of the prostate gland usually associated with inflammation. Prostatitis often causes painful or difficult urination, as well as pain in the groin, pelvic area or genitals. Bacterial infections cause some but not all cases of prostatitis.

The prostate gland, about the size of a walnut, is located just below the bladder in men. It surrounds the top portion of the tube that drains urine from the bladder (urethra). The prostate and other sex glands produce the fluid that transports sperm during ejaculation (semen).

Types

There are generally four types of prostatitis:

Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of prostatitis can vary depending on the type of disorder. They may include:

When to see a doctor

Several conditions can contribute to the signs and symptoms associated with prostatitis. It's important to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible.

Get immediate care if you have any of the following:

Causes

Causes vary depending on the type of prostatitis.

Prostate gland

The prostate gland is located just below the bladder in men and surrounds the top portion of the tube that drains urine from the bladder (urethra). The prostate's primary function is to produce the fluid that nourishes and transports sperm (seminal fluid).

Risk factors

Risk factors for prostatitis include:

Additional risk factors for chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome may include:

Complications

Complications of acute or chronic prostatitis can include:

Complications of chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome may include:

There's no direct evidence that prostatitis can lead to prostate cancer. Researchers are investigating whether chronic inflammation of the prostate is a risk factor for cancer.

Diagnosis

The symptoms associated with prostatitis can be caused by a number of conditions. You may be referred to a specialist in urinary and reproductive system disorders (urologist). Your health care provider will conduct a physical exam, review your symptoms and medical history, and order tests to determine the cause and rule out certain conditions.

Test for diagnosing bacterial infections

Diagnostic tests to assess for infection will likely include:

Other tests

If initial tests show no sign of infection, you may undergo other tests, including:

Treatment

Treatment for prostatitis depends on the specific type diagnosed and your symptoms.

Treating infection

If you have acute or chronic bacterial prostatitis, you'll take antibiotics. Acute disease may require intravenous (IV) antibiotics in the hospital for a short period. The entire course of antibiotic treatment is usually 4 to 6 weeks — or longer in some cases. Taking all the prescribed medication is important for eliminating the infection and reducing the risk of chronic bacterial prostatitis.

Treating urinary symptoms

Medications, called alpha-blockers, help relax the bladder neck and the muscle fibers where your prostate joins your bladder. This treatment might ease urinary symptoms, such as painful or difficult urination. While this is commonly prescribed for men with chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome, it may be prescribed to relieve urinary symptoms of bacterial infections.

Treating pain

Your health care provider may prescribe pain medication or recommend nonprescription drugs, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others).

Managing psychological symptoms

Your health care provider may recommend psychotherapy with a mental health care professional to help you manage stress, depression or anxiety that may be associated with chronic pain.

Lifestyle and home remedies

The following remedies might ease some symptoms of prostatitis:

Alternative medicine

Alternative therapies that show some promise for reducing symptoms of prostatitis include:

Discuss your use of alternative medicine practices and herbal treatments with your doctor.

Preparing for an appointment

A review of your symptoms and medical history will be an important part of the examination with your health care provider. Be prepared to answer the following questions:

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