Thanks to the discovery of the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in 1968 and the evolving science around it, men are safer than ever against prostate cancer due to the ability to detect cancer very early in its growth process. All men over 50 should have this simple test done every five years or more often if your doctor recommends it.
But prostate cancer is not the only serious condition that may affect the prostate in otherwise healthy men. Prostatitis is a non-cancer diagnosis but can still be serious and chronic. In this article, we discuss prostate health and the various diagnoses of prostatitis, and how to treat it.
The prostate is a doughnut-shaped gland that surrounds the urethra (which is the tube through which men urinate and ejaculate). The prostate sits just below the bladder and is a little smaller than a golf ball in its normal, healthy state. The prostate produces semen, the fluid that nourishes sperm while also transporting it.
When the prostate becomes swollen or inflamed, it tightens around the urethra from all sides, constricting the flow of urine and creating pain during urination or ejaculation.
Chronic Prostatitis Symptoms
Prostatitis is the condition of inflammation of the prostate and its accompanying symptoms. Chronic prostatitis, then, is prostatitis that has proven unresponsive to available treatments and may require ongoing treatment.
Chronic prostatitis can occur in any man but is most common among men under 50 years old. Because of its shape and placement, when the prostate becomes inflamed, it immediately begins blocking the flow of fluid through the urethra, causing difficulty in urination as well as pain.
Speak with a doctor if you are experiencing any of these symptoms:
- Painful urination
- Difficulty urinating
- Frequent urination
- Urgent need to urinate
- Cloudy urine
- Blood in urine
- Pain in abdomen or groin
- Pain between the scrotum or rectum
- Painful ejaculation
- Pain in the penis or testicles
Because there are several forms and causes, the exact cause of prostatitis cannot always be identified with specificity. So your doctor will start by ruling out some other, more serious causes for your symptoms before diagnosing you with chronic prostatitis.
Your doctor will discuss your symptoms and medical history and then perform a physical exam which is likely to include a digital rectal exam. This enables the doctor to quickly check for swelling. The doctor will also probably order a blood or urine test or in some cases a CT scan of the urinary tract or a sonogram of the prostate itself. In this process, your doctor will be working to identify which type of prostatitis you have.
- Acute Bacterial Prostatitis is an infection. It comes on very fast and produces flu-like symptoms in addition to the customary groin pain. It is caused by bacteria that are extremely common. This condition can be treated with antibiotics including IV antibiotics in severe cases.
- Chronic Bacterial Prostatitis is a bacterial infection that is unresponsive to antibiotic treatment. In this scenario, your doctor may prescribe an ongoing antibiotic regimen that may last for months or years. However, many patients with this condition experience low or no symptoms at most times.
- Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome is the most common form of prostatitis. Its cause is non-bacterial so it cannot be treated with antibiotics. Those with this condition sometimes have a steady, low-grade pain while others experience ups and downs in their pain level. Because this condition is not treatable with antibiotics, patients should try some of the home treatments discussed below.
- Asymptomatic Inflammatory Prostatitis has no noticeable symptoms. It is usually discovered by accident by a doctor examining a patient for other conditions. It does not require treatment in most cases.
Medical Treatment Options
The treatment your doctor will recommend for chronic prostatitis will depend on the underlying cause. Some of the options and possibilities include:
- Antibiotics are often the first course of treatment undertaken. If your doctor has insight into the source of the bacteria, there are multiple antibiotics that work well on various infection types. Antibiotic regimens for prostatitis may require an extended treatment timeline.
- Alpha Blockers relax the bladder neck and the muscles that join the prostate to the bladder, relieving the pain of urination.
- Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) may reduce the pain of prostatitis if the inflammation is responsive to the drug. Reduction in swelling of the prostate will reduce the construction of the urethra, which is the source of the pain during urination.
Home Treatment Options
- A sitz bath is a warm bath that immerses the groin area for the purpose of increasing healing blood flow there.
- Limiting alcohol, acidic foods, and caffeine may help with symptoms both by reducing dehydration and by reducing your acidic intake.
- Avoid physical irritants like biking or horseback riding.
- Drink lots of non-caffeine fluids to flush bacteria from the bladder.
There is a lot to think about – we understand. If you have questions about estrogen or any of the conditions discussed here, connecting with a doctor in a discrete setting has never been easier.
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For questions, inquiries, or appointments, don’t hesitate to contact us. Get personalized support and insight from top-tier physicians available 24/7.