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What is prostatitis?

Prostatitis is one of several benign (non-cancerous), inflammatory conditions of the prostate gland. Acute prostatitis occurs suddenly, with sharp, severe symptoms. Chronic prostatitis develops gradually, recurs often, with the infection and lasts for prolonged periods of time. Chronic prostatitis is typically difficult to treat.

Prostatitis and other prostate problems are generally treated by a urologist. A urologist is a physician who specializes in the treatment of conditions involving the urinary tract in both genders, and conditions involving the genital tract of the male reproductive system.

What are the different types of prostatitis?

The following classifications of prostatitis are offered by the National Kidney and Urologic Disease Information Clearinghouse, a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK):

  • Acute bacterial prostatitis

    Although the least common of all types of prostatitis, acute bacterial prostatitis occurs in men at any age and often with sudden onset and severe symptoms. It is important to seek treatment promptly as this condition is easy to diagnose. Men may find urination difficult and extremely painful. Other symptoms of acute bacterial prostatitis include fever, chills, lower back pain, pain in the genital (between the legs) area, urinary frequency, burning during urination, and/or urinary urgency at night, coupled with aches and pains throughout the body.

  • Chronic bacterial prostatitis

    Although fairly uncommon, chronic bacterial prostatitis is a recurrent infection of the prostate gland that is difficult to treat. Symptoms of the infection are often similar to but less intense than acute bacterial prostatitis. However, symptoms of chronic bacterial prostatitis generally last longer and often fever is absent, unlike during an acute infection.

  • Chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome

    Chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome is likely the least understood form of prostatitis, but the most common form of the disease. Symptoms may resolve and then reappear without warning. The infection may be considered inflammatory, in which urine, semen, and other secretions are absent of a known infecting organism but do contain infection-fighting cells, or the infection may be considered noninflammatory, in which inflammation and infection-fighting cells are both absent.

  • Asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis

    Asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis may be diagnosed when infection-fighting cells are present, but common symptoms of prostatitis, such as difficulty with urination, fever, and lower back and pelvic pain, are absent. A diagnosis of asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis is made most often during an examination for other conditions, such as infertility or prostate cancer.

What causes prostatitis?

Prostatitis is an infection that likely occurs due to bacteria that have entered the prostatic ducts from the rectum and/or as a result of a backward flow of infected urine.

Prostatitis is not a contagious condition and is not considered a sexually transmitted disease. It can result, however, from several different sexually transmitted diseases.

Who is at risk for prostatitis?

Although any man can develop prostatitis at any age, there are some conditions that put a man at greater risk for developing this condition, including the following:

  • Recent bladder, urinary tract, or other infection elsewhere in the body

  • Injury or trauma to the perineum (the area between the scrotum and the anus)

  • Abnormal urinary tract anatomy

  • Enlarged prostate

  • Rectal intercourse

  • Recent procedure involving the insertion of a urinary catheter or cystoscope

What are the symptoms of prostatitis?

The following are the most common, general symptoms of prostatitis. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • Urinary frequency and/or urgency

  • Burning or stinging sensation during urination

  • Painful urination

  • Reduced stream volume during urination

  • Rectal pain and/or pressure

  • Fever and chills (usually present with an acute infection only)

  • Lower back and/or pelvic pain

  • Discharge through the urethra during bowel movements

  • Sexual dysfunction and/or loss of libido (sex drive)

  • Throbbing sensations in the rectal and/or genital area

What's Causing Your Symptoms?

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