Symptoms to Note

Frequent need to urinate both day and night

Difficulty urinating

Weak urine flow

Stopping and starting of urine flow

Feeling of being unable to completely empty your bladder

Dribbling or leaking urine

The prostate gland, located just below the bladder, is about the size and shape of a walnut. It's primary function is to produce semen, the fluid that carries sperm. The prostate surrounds a portion of the urethra -- the tube that carries urine from the bladder.

bph mgs2aUnderstanding and Treating Inflammation of the Prostate

Prostatitis is an inflammation of the prostate, often causing swelling or pain. This common condition takes three forms, ranging from annoying to severe.

Nonbacterial Prostatitis

This is the most common type of prostatitis. Causes may include the following:

  • Stress, which tightens the pelvic muscles and may cause urine to back up into the ducts
  • Irregular sexual activity, which may plug the ducts
  • Symptoms, if any, may include the following:
  • Frequent urination
  • Pain in the lower abdomen or low back

Acute (Severe) Bacterial Prostatitis

Causes may include the following:

  • Bacteria or viruses
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Symptoms may be severe, can strike suddenly, and may include the following:
  • Fever and chills
  • Low back pain
  • Frequent and painful urination
  • Decreasing, less forceful urine stream
  • Urinary retention

Chronic (Long-lasting) Prostatitis

prostatitis-2Causes may include the following:

  • Bacterial prostatitis
  • Inflammation in the prostate
  • (Note: Stress or irregular sex may worsen the condition.)
  • Symptoms may include the following:
  • Repeated bladder infections
  • Frequent urination
  • Pain in the lower abdomen or low back


By thoroughly examining both your urine and your prostate, your doctor can begin to identify which type of prostatitis you have and rule out more serious problems.

Urine Collection

Samples from both your urine and your prostate can reveal whether the problem is in the urethra, bladder, or prostate. You'll be asked to collect one or more samples from your urine stream.

prostatitis-1Digital Rectal Exam

Your doctor inserts a well-lubricated gloved finger into your rectum to determine the size and shape of your prostate, and to check for abnormalities.

Prostatic Massage

To collect a sample of prostatic fluid, your doctor may press on your prostate. This forces prostatic fluid out into the urethra.

Ruling Out Other Problems

The PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test may be done to measure levels of a prostate chemical in your blood. Both infection and cancer can increase PSA levels. Transrectal ultrasound may be done if cancer is suspected or abscesses are present. An ultrasound probe inserted a short way into the rectum is used to create a clear image of your prostate on a video screen.


To treat your symptoms and the underlying condition, medications or other treatments may be recommended. If your doctor finds that you have an infection, medication can usually clear it up completely.

Nonbacterial Prostatitis

Anti-inflammatories or muscle relaxants are often used to ease the symptoms of nonbacterial prostatitis. Other recommendations may include taking hot baths, relaxing when urinating, drinking more fluids, and ejaculating frequently (to help drain the gland and relax the muscles). Your doctor may also suggest a few dietary changes.

Acute Prostatitis

Prostate infections are often treated with anti-biotics that are taken for at lease a week. Bed rest, stool softeners, and increased fluid intake may also be recommended.

Chronic Prostatitis

Chronic infections may be treated with antibiotics or other medications. If medication does not help, your doctor may discuss other treatment options with you.


prostatitis-3Just below your bladder in front of your rectum is a small reproductive gland called the prostate. It wraps around the urethra, the tube that carries urine from your bladder. The prostate produces most of your semen, the fluid that carries sperm through the ducts (tubes). During orgasm, this prostate fluid is squeezed through the ducts, into the urethra, and out through the penis.

Why Problems Can Develop
For a variety of reasons ranging from stress to bacterial infection, prostatic ducts may become inflamed, irritated, or blocked. That's when prostatitis may develop. Some medical conditions or procedures (such as strokes or catherterization) may also cause urinary retention and lead to prostatitis.



As you age, you become more susceptible to prostate problems, including cancer. Regular prostate checkups help ensure that any problems can be treated early. The American Cancer Society recommends yearly digital rectal exams for men over age 40 and yearly PSA blood tests for men over age 50.

A Note to You and Your Partner
Since prostatitis is not contagious, there's no reason to avoid sex. In fact, sexual intercourse may help the prostate function better by clearing out the prostatic ducts. To better understand prostatitis symptoms and treatment, both you and your partner might want to read this brochure.