What Is Prostatitis?

Published: February 8, 2019

The prostate is part of the male reproductive system. It’s a small gland located below the bladder and in front of the rectum. And its job is to create the fluid for semen. 

Prostatitis is when the prostate becomes infected or inflamed, which can happen for a variety of reasons. (1) Inflammation of the prostate or surrounding tissues can cause tenderness and pain because the prostate is surrounded by muscles and nerves. (2) 

There are four types of prostatitis. The causes, symptoms and treatment options vary a bit from type to type. 

The Four Types of Prostatitis & Their Causes

Chronic Prostatitis (CP) / Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome (CPPS)

CP is the most common variety of prostatitis and results from inflammation of the prostate and the surrounding nerves. Infection does not cause CP. However, it isn’t always clear what the cause actually is. Stress, inflammation, pelvic injuries, and prior infections may be contributing factors when it comes to developing non-bacterial cases of prostatitis. 

Symptoms of CP include difficulty with urination, ejaculation problems, and pelvic pain. (2)

Chronic Bacterial Prostatitis

This variety of prostatitis is much less common than CP. Bacteria causes CBP and it can flare up and subside over time.

Symptoms include difficulty with urination, ejaculation problems and pelvic pain. (2)

Acute (Sudden) Bacterial Prostatitis

This infection of the prostate can come on suddenly and be quite painful. Symptoms are difficult to ignore, and are an indicator that you should seek medical help promptly. 

This type of prostatitis sometimes causes chills, fever, intense pain during urination, or difficulty emptying your bladder. 

Catheter use, urinary tract abnormalities and bladder infections can increase the risk of developing both acute and chronic bacterial prostatitis. (2)

Asymptomatic Inflammatory Prostatitis

As with many conditions, prostatitis can also occur without any noticeable or troublesome symptoms. In this case, inflammation of the prostate is sometimes found during a general wellness exam or when checking out another condition. (2)

Diagnosis:

When you take prostate related symptoms to your general practitioner, he or she may refer you to a urologist – enter – Virginia Urology! 

Taking into account the number of potential causes for inflammation of the prostate, your urologist may order a series of tests to the get to the bottom your symptoms. 

You can expect a thorough discussion of your medical history and a physical exam. Your urologist will then pick and choose from the following diagnostic tools as necessary for your individual case (2): 

  • Ultrasound to get a closer look at the state of the prostate. 
  • Test of your urine and prostate fluids to look for white blood cells, bacteria or other indicators that infection may be present. 
  • Urine flow study or urodynamics which can provide insight into potential blockages. 
  • Cystoscopy which uses a thin scope to get a look into your urethra, bladder, and prostate.

Treatment:

The type of treatment you receive will depend on the type and severity of your prostatitis. When an infection is involved (as is the case for chronic and acute bacterial prostatitis), antibiotics will probably be part of your physician’s approach. In many cases, the prescribed course of antibiotics can last anywhere from 2 weeks to 12 weeks.

Even though CP/CPPS aren’t thought to be the result of infection, some doctors will prescribe antibiotics for these cases as well, for good measure. Anti-inflammatory and pain relief medications are also commonly used to remedy CP. (2)

Lifestyle changes and home-remedies can help manage ongoing symptoms. Hot water bottles and warm baths can sometimes ease pelvic pain. Your physician may recommend that you avoid spicy or acidic food and that you implement healthful diet changes. Your doctor may also advise limiting certain activities that can exacerbate your symptoms – like cycling. (2)

For cases of chronic prostatitis, recurrence is possible. That means that you may never be fully cured – however, symptoms can be controlled to the point that living with the condition is manageable. (2)

If you have any of the unwanted and uncomfortable urological symptoms we mentioned, don’t ignore it! Let us diagnose and treat your condition so that you can be on the road to feeling better – ASAP!

*Please note, the symptoms listed above can also be indicators of other health conditions, including: prostate stones, urethral stricture, prostate cancer or BPH. Please don’t ignore uncomfortable urological symptoms – they’re an indicator that something is going on behind the scenes – and catching issues early can help us treat them.

Cited Sources:

  1. https://www.pcf.org/about-prostate-cancer/what-is-prostate-cancer/prostate-gland/prostatitis/
  2. https://www.urologyhealth.org/urologic-conditions/prostatitis-(infection-of-the-prostate)