What Is Prostatitis?
Prostatitis is a condition that occurs when the prostate gland becomes inflamed. The prostate gland is approximately the size of a walnut and is located just below a man's bladder. Inflammation can spread to other areas surrounding the prostate.
The prostate gland surrounds the upper portion of the urethra, which is the tube that carries urine from the bladder. The prostate, along with other glands, produce fluid (semen) to protect sperm as they travel.
Types of prostatitis
The four types of prostatitis include the following:
- Asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis. The prostate shows signs of inflammation; however, there are no symptoms.
- Acute bacterial prostatitis. A bacterial infection is present in the prostate that is characterized by sudden and severe symptoms.
- Chronic bacterial prostatitis. A bacterial infection that typically has less severe symptoms is present and is ongoing or recurring.
- Chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome. Although no infection is present, pelvic area pain and urinary tract infections are ongoing or recurring.
Asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis does not present any symptoms. Symptoms of prostatitis may vary for each symptomatic type.
Chronic bacterial prostatitis will yield less severe symptoms. Other symptoms which may be experienced include a heavy feeling behind the scrotum.
Chronic prostatitis, or chronic pelvic pain syndrome, may present milder symptoms. The primary symptom is pain in the lower back, abdomen, rectum, and genital area.
Symptoms include the following:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Frequent urination, especially during the night
- Fever or chills
- Pain between the rectum and scrotum
- Painful or burning urination
- Pain following ejaculation
- Discomfort or pain in the penis or testicles
- Pain in the abdomen, lower back, or groin
- Blood in the urine or semen
- Difficulty urinating
- Foul-smelling, cloudy urine
- Aching or flu-like symptoms (with acute bacterial prostatitis)
Seek medical care
Seek immediate medical attention if any of the following symptoms are present:
- Severe discomfort or pain in the pelvic area or genitals
- Inability to urinate
- Painful or difficult urination paired with a fever
- Blood in urine
The cause varies based on the type of prostatitis.
Asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis has no known cause. It is generally diagnosed during a medical examination for other conditions or during a blood test for prostate health.
Acute bacterial prostatitis frequently occurs from bacteria that has spread from other parts of the urinary or reproductive system. Examples of bacteria that may cause prostatitis include E. coli and certain sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as gonorrhea or chlamydia.
Chronic bacterial prostatitis is the result of bacteria. It typically occurs when treatment for an acute infection fails, or if the treatment duration is insufficient.
Chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome is not well understood. It may be caused by multiple factors, such as dysfunction of the nervous or immune systems, previous infections, irregular hormone activity, or psychological stress.
Risk factors for prostatitis include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Use of a urinary catheter
- Previous prostatitis
- Groin injury
- Infection of the urinary or reproductive system
- Young or middle-aged adulthood
- Biopsy of the prostate tissue
- Enlarged prostate
Chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome has additional risk factors, including nerve damage to the pelvic region and psychological stress.