What is Prostatitis: Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

What is Prostatitis?

You may have heard the term prostatitis used before, but what is prostatitis? As a man, it is important to ask these questions and prioritize your urology health. Prostatitis, otherwise known as a prostate infection, occurs when the prostate and its surrounding area become swollen or inflamed. This condition is most common in older men — and half of all men will experience prostatitis during their lifetime.

Because this condition is so common, every man should understand the signs and symptoms of prostatitis — and most importantly, how to treat it. Keep reading to learn all about prostatitis, including the symptoms, causes, diagnostic tools, treatment options, and more. 

What is Prostatitis?

So, what is prostatitis? There are four types of prostatitis: acute bacterial prostatitis, chronic bacterial prostatitis, prostatodynia, and asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis. Let’s take a closer look at each type of prostatitis and its associated symptoms.

1. Acute Bacterial Prostatitis

This type of prostatitis is caused by a bacterial infection that occurs when bacteria enter your prostate. Acute bacterial prostatitis is a severe condition that develops suddenly and is a medical emergency. If you recognize any of the following symptoms, schedule an appointment with one of our urologists as soon as possible.

  • Chills or a high fever
  • Pain while urinating
  • Difficulty urinating 
  • Lower back pain
  • Abdominal or pelvic pain
  • Cloudy or foul-smelling urine
  • Pain in your testicles

2. Chronic Bacterial Prostatitis

Chronic bacterial prostatitis is characterized by recurring urinary tract infections in men. While the symptoms are similar to those of acute bacterial prostatitis, they develop more gradually and are typically less severe. Symptoms of chronic bacterial prostatitis include:

  • Pain while urinating or after ejaculating
  • Difficulty urinating or a weak urine stream
  • An urgent need to urinate, often during the middle of the night
  • Lower back pain
  • Rectum pain
  • Blood in your semen

3. Prostatodynia

Prostatodynia — also known as chronic prostatitis, chronic pelvic pain syndrome, and non-bacterial prostatitis — is the most common type of prostatitis. Although this condition can occur without symptoms, it typically shares many of the same signs as bacterial prostatitis. However, unlike bacterial prostatitis, no bacteria are present with prostatodynia.

Symptoms of chronic prostatitis typically last longer than three months, including pain in the genitals or pelvic area, during urination, and after ejaculation. While the exact cause of this non-bacterial prostatitis is unknown, it could stem from persistent infections, inflammation, or pelvic muscle spasms.

4. Asymptomatic Inflammatory Prostatitis

Although you may still experience an inflamed prostate, there are typically no other noticeable symptoms with this type of prostatitis. Due to the lack of symptoms, asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis is typically diagnosed while the patient is being evaluated for an unrelated condition. This is one of the many reasons why regular checkups and screenings with a urologist are so important for maintaining optimal urology health.

Related: Steps to Prepare for a Male Urology Exam

Diagnostic Tools for Prostatitis 

There are several tools that doctors use to diagnose prostatitis. One of these resources is the National Institute of Health Chronic Prostatitis Symptom Index, which involves a series of questions to help assess the severity of your symptoms. This index includes questions about the patient’s pain levels and urinary symptoms, as well as how the condition has impacted their overall quality of life.

Another diagnostic tool that a urologist may employ is a digital rectal exam (DRE), which involves inserting a lubricated, gloved finger into the rectum to determine if the prostate is enlarged. During this exam, your urologist will also massage the prostate gland to collect an expressed prostatic secretion (EPS), which can be further analyzed for inflammation and infection. If anything is detected, your urologist may request a transrectal ultrasound, which will allow them to observe the prostate gland and make a visual diagnosis.

Prostatitis Treatment Options

Like any other urology condition, treating prostatitis will depend on the specific type of infection the patient is experiencing. With acute bacterial prostatitis, the patient will need to take antibiotics for at least 14 days. However, chronic bacterial prostatitis will require taking antibiotics for a longer period of time — sometimes up to 12 weeks.

Because prostatodynia is a non-bacterial infection, this type of prostatitis may not respond to antibiotics. The urologist may recommend a treatment such as prostate massage therapy — and in more severe cases, surgery may be necessary to treat prostatodynia. 

Since the symptoms of prostatitis can be painful, a urologist may also offer a treatment to ease the discomfort. This may include alpha-blockers, which help relax the muscles around the prostate, as well as a combination of anti-inflammatory medications, muscle relaxants, and heat therapies to help relieve the pain associated with prostatitis. 

Treating Prostatitis With The Urology Specialists

We hope that reading this blog answered the question, “What is prostatitis?” If you are experiencing any of the symptoms associated with prostatitis, it is important to consult a medical professional right away. Schedule an appointment with one of our urology specialists to begin the diagnostic process and start your road to recovery as soon as possible.

Making your health a priority is always important, but this is especially true as you age. Many urological conditions are more common in older men, which is why it’s important to be proactive and see a professional. In our Man-To-Man Guide on Healthy Aging, we’ve outlined the specific aspects of men’s health to be conscious of during the different stages of your life. Click the button below to access your free copy of this guide! 

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This content was originally published in December 2015 and was refreshed in October 2021.