The prostate is a gland located in your lower abdomen, surrounding the urethra. This gland helps make semen, the fluid that contains sperm. In young men, the prostate is about the size of a walnut but it slowly grows as a man ages.
What is Prostatitis?
Prostatitis is an inflammation or infection of the prostate. You may experience discomfort or pain in your penis, groin, around your rectum or in your pelvic area. It may make it difficult or painful to urinate. Prostatitis may come on suddenly or may develop over time. Other symptoms include:
- Burning when urinating
- Frequent urination
- Pain during ejaculation
- Flu-like symptoms
Sometimes prostatitis is caused by a bacterial infection and medical care is needed and usually successful. Some STDs, such as gonorrhea and Chlamydia can cause bacterial prostatitis. Other times the cause isn’t known and it may come and go on its own. Unfortunately, in many cases prostatitis is chronic, it will go away only to return again - over and over.
Your doctor will complete a digital rectal exam, inserting a finger into your rectum to physically feel your prostate and determine if it is swollen or tender. Your doctor may want a urine sample. Bacterial prostatitis can be diagnosed by examining the urine under a microscope. Other urine tests include:
- Urine culture where the bacteria grow and can be tested for resistance to different medications
- Obtaining two urine samples, one before and one after prostate massage (a digital exam where the prostate is stroked). This is done to see if prostate fluid contains bacteria or infection-fighting cells which were not present in the urine test.
If no bacterial infection is found, your doctor will rule out any other condition which may be causing the symptoms, including kidney stones, bladder disorders and other infections. This may require blood tests, biopsy or an MRI. This is normally done if the prostatitis does not go away on its own or if you have been experiencing chronic prostatitis.
Antimicrobials are used to treat bacterial prostatitis. If you are experiencing severe pain, your doctor may recommend you stay in the hospital so you can receive the medication, and fluids, through IV. Once you have completed this, you will still need to take medication for 2 to 4 weeks.
For prostatitis that is not caused by bacteria, treatment is more difficult. Because there is no infection to treat, remedies such as changes in diet or taking warm baths may help relieve the discomfort. A medication that helps relax the muscle tissue in the prostate helps some people. For chronic prostatitis, you may need to try a variety of treatments to find out which one works best for you. Other home remedies include:
- Avoiding alcohol, caffeine, spicy or acidic foods
- Sitting on a pillow to relieve pressure on the prostate
- Avoiding bicycling or taking steps to relieve pressure on prostate, such as using cushions or padded shorts
"Prostatitis - Bacterial Acute," Updated 2011, Sept 19, Updated by Louis S. Liou, Ph.D., A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia
"Prostatitis: Disorders of the Prostate," 2008, Jan, Reviewed by Mark Litwin, M.D. National Institutes of Health
"Prostate Health," Updated 2011, Jan 10, Staff Writer, WomensHealth.gov
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.