Prostatitis is an inflammation or infection of the prostate gland. It is a very common disorder and can affect a man at any age. In fact, it is the most commonly diagnosed urologic disease in men. About 50% of adult men in the United States will be treated for prostatitis during their lifetime.

Q: What causes Prostatitis?
A: Infections by bacteria or other organisms cause prostatic inflammation in 50-70% of men. These bacteria may come from a bladder infection or from sexually transmitted diseases.

Prostatitis is also commonly caused by a chemical reaction due to Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), which is an enlargement of the prostate gland. For example, if the urine flow is slowed down or cut off by BPH, some of the urine may remain in the urethra after urination and back up into the prostate gland. This condition is called urinary reflux. A chemical in the urine called urate irritates the tissue of the prostate gland and can cause inflammation.
There are three main types of prostatitis:

  • Bacterial Prostatitis (acute and chronic)
  • Nonbacterial Prostatitis
  • Prostatodynia

Bacterial Prostatitis
There are two main forms of bacterial prostatitis; acute and chronic. Acute bacterial prostatitis occurs in about one in ten men with prostatitis and develops suddenly, like any other major bacterial infection. It may be caused by E. coli, Klebsiella, Pseudomonas, or other types of bacteria. Symptoms are often severe and, therefore, are usually quickly diagnosed. They may include fever, chills, pain in the lower back or pelvic area, aching muscles, fatigue, and frequent urination. The bladder may also be infected. Chronic bacterial prostatitis also occurs in about one in ten men with prostatitis. This form of bacterial prostatitis tends to reoccur after the initial infection has been treated and symptoms disappear.

Nonbacterial Prostatitis
Nonbacterial prostatitis occurs in about six out of ten men with prostatitis. The inflammation may be related to organisms other than bacteria or to factors that are unknown or difficult to determine. Symptoms are much the same as for bacterial prostatitis: occasional vague discomfort in the testicles, urethra, lower abdomen and back; discharge from the urethra, blood in the urine or ejaculate, sexual difficulties and frequent urination.

Prostatodynia means pain in the area of the prostate gland and occurs in about three out of ten men with prostate irritation. Unfortunately, tests used to diagnose infection and certain problems affecting the gland and other pelvic organs are not useful in detecting the cause of this pain. Symptoms include pain and discomfort in the prostate gland, testicles, penis and urethra, and difficulty in urinating.

Treatment and Follow-up Options for Prostatitis

Acute and Chronic Bacterial Prostatitis
Your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic that can penetrate the prostate gland tissue and kill the bacteria causing the infection. It is important that you take all the antibiotic prescribed to ensure that all of the bacteria have been killed. Chronic infections may be more difficult to cure. Longer treatment with antibiotics or different types of medication may be required to cure the infection.

Nonbacterial Prostatitis
Depending on the cause of irritation, different treatments may be used. Anti-inflammatory drugs may help some patients. If your symptoms are caused by urinary reflux into the prostate, your doctor may prescribe drugs that reduce the amount of irritating chemical in the urine.

Your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatories or drugs that combat urinary problems, since these conditions may cause difficult or painful urination.
There are also numerous alternative (non drug) treatments that your doctor may recommend to relieve the symptoms of prostatitis.
Please consult with your physician concerning which treatment is best in your case.

Important Questions to Ask Your Doctor

  • What type of prostatitis do I have?
  • For my diagnosis what treatment options do I have?
  • What do you suggest and why?
  • What are the benefits of this option?
  • What are the potential risks or side effects of this option?
  • Will I need more tests? For what purpose? What can I do to make my treatment most effective?

For additional information about bladder cancer, the following resources are available:

National Cancer Institute
Cancer Information Service (CIS) 800-4-CANCER
The Cancer Information Service (CIS) and Cancernet are National Cancer Institute programs which provide a nationwide telephone service and web site for cancer patients and their families and friends.

American Cancer Society (ACS)
The American Cancer Society (ACS) is a voluntary organization with a national office in Atlanta Georgia, and local facilities across the country. It supports research, patient education programs, and other services for family members, as well as free booklets on bladder cancer and home care.

The Urology Channel

This report is intended for patient education and information only. It does not constitute advice, nor should it be taken to suggest or replace professional medical care from your physician. Your treatment options may vary, depending upon medical history and current condition. Only your physician and you can determine your best option. Provided to you as a service by AmeriPath, Inc