What Is Prostatitis?

Prostatitis is the medical term for prostate infection. With this condition, the prostate and surrounding area becomes inflamed. Though some men feel severe, painful symptoms while others are barely bothered or even symptom free, prostatitis can have a negative impact on a man’s quality of life and should be treated. There are several types of prostatitis, each with a variety of causes, symptoms, and treatments. Here are the different types of prostatitis and their associated causes and symptoms:

Acute Bacterial Prostatitis

Symptoms of acute bacterial prostatitis include fevers, chills, painful urination, inability to empty the bladder, lower back pain, and abdominal or pelvic pain. This condition is usually caused by a sudden onset bacterial infection.

Chronic Bacterial Prostatitis

Chronic bacterial prostatitis is characterized by recurring urinary tract infections in men. The symptoms of chronic bacterial prostatitis are similar to those of acute bacterial prostatitis, however, they develop more gradually, and are typically less severe.


Prostatodynia, known by several other names including chronic prostatitis, chronic pelvic pain syndrome, and non-bacterial prostatitis, is the most common type of prostatitis. Sometimes this condition can occur without symptoms. Other times symptoms can include pain in the genitals and pelvic area, difficulty urinating, pain during urination, and pain during or after ejaculation. The exact cause of this non-bacterial prostatitis is unknown, though it could stem from persistent infection, inflammation, or pelvic muscle spasms.

Asymptomatic Inflammatory Prostatitis

With this type of prostatitis there are no symptoms, other than the inflammation of the prostate. Due to the lack of symptoms, asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis is diagnosed when the patient is being evaluated by a doctor for an unrelated condition.

Diagnosis of Prostatitis

There are several tools that doctors use to diagnosis prostatitis. One of these diagnostic tools is the National Institute of Health Chronic Prostatitis Symptom Index. This index is a series of questions regarding the types and degrees of symptoms. Another diagnostic tool that a urologist may employ is a physical exam, which includes collecting urine samples for testing, as well as a digital rectal exam, or DRE. The DRE involves the doctor inserting a lubricated, gloved finger into the rectum in order to determine if the prostate is enlarged or tender. During the DRE, the urologist can collect a specimen of prostatic fluid by massaging the prostate gland, which will lead to an expressed prostatic excretion (EPS) coming out of the penis.   The EPS and the urine samples can then be analyzed for inflammation and infection. If these two diagnostic tools deem it necessary, then the urologist may decide to order a transrectal ultrasound, which will allow him to see the prostate gland and make a visual diagnosis.

Treatment of Prostatitis

The treatment for prostatitis will depend on the type of infection. With acute bacterial prostatitis, the patient will need to take antibiotics for at least 14 days. If the diagnosis is chronic bacterial prostatitis, then the patient will need to take antibiotics for a longer time, sometimes up to 12 weeks. Prostatodynia, a non-bacterial infection, may not respond to antibiotics. In some difficult cases, the urologist may recommend a treatment such as prostate massage therapy, and in rare cases when there is an anatomical issue such as scar tissue antagonizing the prostatitis, surgery may be a treatment option.

Because the symptoms of prostatitis can be painful, a urologist may offer a treatment to ease the pain in addition to the prescribed antibiotics. Pain relief methods may include alpha-blockers which help relax the muscles around the prostate, as well as a variety of anti-inflammatory medications, muscle relaxants and heat therapies to help relieve the pain associated with the infection.

The specific type of prostatitis can be challenging to diagnose and treat because there is an overlap of symptoms between types, and a wide range of symptoms between patients. It may take the urologist some time and several diagnostic methods in order to determine the correct diagnosis and the effective course of treatment. If you experience any of the symptoms associated with prostatitis, it is important to consult a medical professional right away so that you can begin the diagnostic process and start down the road to recovery.