The prostate is a walnut-sized gland that all men have. It’s found below your bladder and in front of your rectum. The job of the prostate is to make fluid that contains sperm (semen). This fluid protects the sperm when they travel toward a female’s egg.
If your prostate becomes swollen, tender, and inflamed, you have a condition called “prostatitis.” This isn’t cancer, and it’s different from having an “enlarged prostate.”
Symptoms of Prostatitis
There are four types of prostatitis. Each has its own set of symptoms and causes. These include:
Acute bacterial prostatitis. Your urinary tract is made up of your kidneys, bladder, and the tubes that pass between them. If bacteria from here finds its way into your prostate, you can get an infection.
This type of prostatitis comes on quickly. You might suddenly have:
- Urgent need to pee but only a little comes out, or you have to get to the toilet quickly to prevent an accident
- High fever
- Trouble peeing
- Pain around the base of your penis or behind your scrotum
- Cloudy urine
Acute bacterial prostatitis is a severe condition. If you notice these symptoms, seek medical care right away.
Chronic bacterial prostatitis. This is more common in older men. It’s a milder bacterial infection that can linger for several months. Some men get it after they’ve had a urinary tract infection (UTI) or acute bacterial prostatitis.
The symptoms of chronic bacterial prostatitis often come and go. This makes them easy to miss. With this condition, you might sometimes have:
- An urgent need to pee, often in the middle of the night
- Painful urination
- Pain after you ejaculate (release semen at orgasm)
- Lower back pain
- Rectum pain
- A “heavy” feeling behind your scrotum
- Blood in your semen
- Urinary blockage (difficulty peeing or a weak urine stream)
Chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS). This is the most common type of prostatitis. It shares many of the same signs as bacterial prostatitis. The difference is that when tests are run, no bacteria are present with this type.
Doctors aren’t sure what causes CP/CPPS. Triggers include stress, nearby nerve damage, and physical injury. Chemicals in your urine or a UTI you had in the past may play a role. CP/CPPS has also been linked to immune disorders like chronic fatigue syndrome and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
The main symptom of CP/CPPS is pain that lasts more than 3 months in at least one of these body parts:
- Penis (often at the tip)
- Between your scrotum and rectum (the perineum)
- Lower abdomen
- You may also have pain when you pee or ejaculate.
- You might not be able to hold your urine, or you may have to pee more than 8 times a day. A weak urine stream is another common symptom of CP/CPPS.
Asymptomatic prostatitis. Men who have this type of prostatitis have an inflamed prostate but no symptoms. You may only learn you have it if your doctor does a blood test that checks your prostate health. Asymptomatic prostatitis doesn’t need any treatment, but it can lead to infertility.
Prostatitis Risk Factors
You’re more likely to have problems with your prostate if:
- You’ve had a UTI
- You’ve had a groin injury
- You use a urinary catheter
You’ve had a prostate biopsy
- You have HIV/AIDS
- You have an enlarged prostate or voiding symptoms
- You’ve had prostatitis before
An inflamed or infected prostate gland is common in men of all ages.
If you have prostatitis, your doctor can help you find ways to manage your symptoms and control your pain. if it is an infection, your treatment will include antibiotics. Researchers are also trying to better understand what causes it. This will allow them to find more treatments that work.
- Mayo Clinic: “Prostatitis.”
- Urology Care Foundation: “What are Prostatitis and Related Chronic Pelvic Pain Conditions?”
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Diseases: “Prostatitis: Inflammation of the Prostate.”
- Harvard Medical School + Harvard Health Publications: “Prostatitis: inflamed prostate can be a vexing health problem.”
- NHS Choices: “Prostatitis.”
- Cleveland Clinic: “Prostatitis.”
- Medscape: “Prostatitis.”
- Prostate Cancer UK: “Prostatitis: A guide to infection and inflammation of the prostate.”