Prostatitis

Prostatitis is the swelling or inflammation of the prostate or area surrounding the prostate, a gland often compared to a walnut in size, which produces semen. It can be caused by a variety of reasons, including bacterial infections.

Causes

Prostatitis has a number of causes, and most of the direct causes are not fully yet known, since it can come in so many different forms. The bacterial infections are believed to be caused by a backward flow of infected urine from the urethra to the prostate. This can result from any insertion into the urethra, such as a catheter, or an abnormality in the urinary tract.

The other type of non-bacterial prostatitis (chronic prostatitis or chronic pelvic pain syndrome) may be caused by organisms like chlamydia, ureaplasma or mycoplasma, some of which can be transmitted sexually. It can also occur when the body’s immune system responds incorrectly to an injury or other infection, leading to muscles and nerves creating painful sensations in or around the prostate.

Symptoms

The symptoms for prostatitis differ depending on the cause and type of prostatitis.

Acute Prostatitis (symptoms onset quickly)

  • Severe or sudden fever, chills
  • Burning during urination
  • Inability to empty the bladder

Chronic Bacterial Prostatitis (symptoms come in cycles over a period of time)

  • Burning feeling during urination
  • Having to urinate often
  • Pain in the lower back, testicles or bladder
  • Painful ejaculation

Chronic Prostatitis/Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome

  • Difficulty urinating
  • Painful urination
  • Difficult or painful ejaculation
  • Pain in the bladder, penis or testicles

Testing

Because there are so many types of prostatitis, it is necessary to identify the correct symptoms in order to properly treat it. Your doctor will often ask you about specific symptoms or have you fill out a questionnaire.

The most common test to identifying any issue with the prostate is the digital rectal exam (DRE), in which a lubricated, gloved finger is inserted into the rectum so the doctor can examine the prostate directly. During the DRE, the doctor can feel for tenderness in the prostate as well as examine the muscles and ligaments of the pelvic floor and the perineum. A physician may also utilize a transrectal ultrasound to help visualize the prostate gland.

An urologist may test a patient’s urine, as well as the expressed prostatic secretion (EPS), a fluid that comes from the penis when the prostate is massaged. Using the EPS, a urologist can analyze these samples for traces of inflammation or infection, which will be useful in determining the cause of a patient’s prostatitis.

Treatment

Treatment for prostatitis depends on the cause of a patient’s prostatitis, bacterial or otherwise.

Bacterial infections of the prostate are treated with antibiotics, with differing amounts depending on whether it is an acute or chronic infection. With chronic prostatitis or chronic pelvic pain syndrome, a doctor may prescribe alpha blockers, muscle relaxers or pain medications to make the discomfort more bearable by relaxing the muscles around the prostate. In addition, regular massages of the prostate to help drain the prostate ducts may alleviate symptoms.

If you feel you are suffering from symptoms of prostatitis, please consult your healthcare provider. To read more about prostatitis online, visit Urology Care Foundation.