What is prostatitis?
Prostatitis is the medical name given to swelling and inflammation of the prostate gland. This gland lies just beneath the bladder in men. Its role is to produce a fluid that, when combined with sperm cells produced in the testes, results in the production of semen.
Some prostate problems including prostate cancer and chronic prostate enlargement tend to occur in middle-aged and older men. However, prostatitis is seen in males across the age spectrum. It can even occur in teenagers.
What are the symptoms of prostatitis?
A key symptom to watch out for is pain. Sufferers may report pain in the lower back, buttocks, pelvis and genitals. This symptom may be severe. Another important symptom is a change in urinary habits. Typically, a man with prostatitis will experience the need to urinate more often and he may find urination to be painful. Urination may also be difficult and occur in a “stop-start” pattern. Prostatitis can also result in sensations of pain accompanying ejaculation.
These symptoms can begin suddenly, but usually they begin gradually and may fluctuate over a period of weeks or months. They may be accompanied by flu-like symptoms such as joint pain, chills and a fever.
What should you do if you are showing signs of prostatitis?
You should make an appointment to see a doctor if you believe you may have prostatitis. The doctor will conduct a rectal exam and will send a urine sample for testing in order to rule out other conditions. If you have prostatitis, you will be diagnosed with one of two types.
The first type is long-term or “chronic” prostatitis. This means that there is no clear underlying cause for the condition, and symptoms may come and go for a long time. The second type is “acute” prostatitis, which is often caused by some kind of bacterial infection in the urinary tract. For instance, a kidney infection may lead to prostatitis.
For chronic prostatitis, treatment focuses on relieving discomfort and improving urinary flow. Painkillers can be given for the former, and drugs called alpha-blockers for the latter.
In the event that you are found to be suffering from acute prostatitis caused by a bacterial infection, you will be given a course of antibiotics. You will also be advised to use painkillers. If the infection is severe, or is inhibiting your ability to pass urine, it may be necessary to receive treatment in hospital.
The outlook is generally positive for both types of prostatitis. Most men will make a full recovery, although some may find that they experience a relapse later on. Moreover, approximately 10% of those diagnosed with chronic prostatitis will later develop acute prostatitis. Doctors are not yet certain of the mechanisms underlying this link.
In many cases, the cause of prostatitis is never found. Men who have abnormal urinary tracts or suffer from certain kinds of autoimmune disease are thought to be at greater risk but more research is needed.
Misconceptions and myths
Myth: sexually transmitting infection
You may have heard some supposed facts and theories about prostatitis that are simply untrue. One common myth is that prostatitis is the result of a sexually transmitting infection. In reality, prostatitis is not usually transmitted via intimate contact. However, you are at elevated risk if you have had rectal (anal) intercourse.
Myth: like prostate cancer
Prostatitis is not to be confused with prostate cancer. The two conditions are completely distinct from one another, and there is no evidence to suggest that suffering from prostatitis increases one’s risk of prostate cancer at a later stage.
Myth: this condition is uncommon
Another misconception is that this condition is uncommon. This is not true – many men suffer from prostatitis at some point over in their lives. This is why it is so important to be aware of the symptoms and be prepared to take action if and when you notice them.