What is Prostatitis?

Prostatitis is an inflammation of the prostate gland, and is common enough to affect as many as half the men in the U.S. at some point in their lives. The most common type of prostatitis is called Chronic Prostatitis/Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome (CP/CPPS). It causes swelling and pain in the prostate gland, located under the bladder and just in front of the rectum in men.

For many cases of prostatitis, the cause is never determined. Some medical professionals believe that bacteria in urine leaks into the prostate, causing an infection. It can also be caused by an immune or nervous system disorder, or by an injury to the prostate area, but these latter types are not caused by bacteria.

What are the Symptoms of Prostatitis?

Most men who have prostatitis have symptoms related to issues with urinating, such as pain or burning. You may also experience trouble urinating, including dribbling or trouble starting. Unusually frequent urination is another symptom.

For more severe cases, you may feel pain in your abdominal, groin or scrotum areas. Ejaculation may also be painful. When bacterial prostatitis develops, you may have flu-like symptoms.

Prostatitis Causes

In many cases of prostatitis, the cause of the condition isn’t known. However, there are a number of theories about why prostatitis occurs and it is thought that usually there are multiple different factors involved.

One potential cause of prostatitis is a bacterial infection. Since the prostate is located just in front of the rectum, it’s possible that bacteria from fecal matter can create an infection in this area. Some infections could also be caused by urine infections or surgery on the prostate, such as a biopsy. If bacteria is to blame for prostatitis, the symptoms usually come on very quickly and a fever often accompanies the pain.

Another common cause of prostatitis is nerve damage in the prostate region, which could occur as a result of injury or surgery. Sometimes nerve damage located far away from the prostate, such as in the spinal disks in the lower back, might also cause prostatitis. Problems with the pelvic floor muscles might also lead to the condition.

Some other factors which could be linked to the cause of prostatitis include:

  • Autoimmune responses and disorders
  • Benign growths on the prostate
  • Prostate stones
  • Prostate cancer
  • Uric acid disorders
  • Yeast infection

How is Prostatitis Treated?

Bacterial prostatitis can be treated with oral antibiotics. If the issue recurs regularly, or is severe, intravenous antibiotics may be necessary.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen may help relieve any pain or swelling associated with prostatitis. Alpha blocker medications may be prescribed to help relax the bladder neck and the muscles where your prostate and bladder touch; this can reduce symptoms related to painful urination.

You may also see your symptoms improve through soaking in warm baths or applying heat to the affected area, or by sitting on a pillow or cushion. Avoid sitting on hard surfaces such as bicycle seats while you are experiencing prostatitis.

Prostatitis Prevention

It isn’t always possible to prevent prostatitis, but bacterial infections of the prostate may be prevented by good hygiene practices. Showering daily may help to reduce the spread of bacteria from fecal matter or from urine.

It’s also important to drink plenty of fluids as this will help to flush out any bacteria in the bladder which could cause a urinary tract infection (UTI) and lead to prostatitis. If you have symptoms of a UTI, such as a burning sensation when urinating, an unusually frequent urge to urinate or blood in the urine, seek treatment immediately to reduce the risk of the infection developing into prostatitis.

Last Reviewed:
October 10, 2016
Last Updated:
January 16, 2018