Prostatitis: Common complications, Symptoms & Frequent Questions
What is the prostate?
The prostate is a key part of the male reproductive system. Its main function is to prepare the fluid that goes into semen. This prostate fluid is therefore vital for male fertility. The prostate gland is a walnut-shaped structure that surrounds the urethra near the bladder. The urethra joins the bladder at its neck forming the lower urinary tract. The prostate has two or more lobes enclosed by a layer of tissue, located in front of the rectum, below the bladder. The urethra carries urine from the bladder to excrete. However, in men, the urethra is also responsible for carrying out semen through the penis.
Now that we understand what a prostate is, let us now understand in the next section, what is prostatitis.
What is prostatitis?
A painful condition of an inflamed prostate gland and inflammation in the adjoining areas of the prostate is called Prostatitis. Based on the location and cause of the condition, prostatitis can be classified into 4 distinct types:
- chronic prostatitis, a.k.a., chronic pelvic pain syndrome.
- acute bacterial prostatitis (caused by bacterial infection).
- chronic bacterial prostatitis (lower intensity than acute).
- asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis (identified only through inflammation).
In the case of asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis, the symptoms are not visible and are mainly diagnosed when we are testing for other urinary tract disorders. This variant usually doesn’t cause complications and hence does not need any specific treatment.
But prostatitis is a seemingly common urinary tract-related condition for men aged less than 50 years, but seniors are also susceptible to this in old age but the frequency is lesser. Of all the variants, the highest reported cases belong to chronic prostatitis. Other than this the following have a higher risk of getting prostatitis.
- Men who suffer from lower urinary tract nerve damage.
- Men who suffer trauma in the pelvic region.
- Men under a lot of psychological stress.
- Men with lower UTIs and those with recurring UTIs.
What causes prostatitis?
Each type of prostatitis has different symptoms and causes.
Chronic prostatitis or chronic pelvic pain syndrome.
The exact cause is unknown. However, it may be linked to the chemicals or microorganisms in urine, excluding bacteria. Apart from this a weak immune system due to a previous illness such as UTI or traumatic nerve damage might also cause this type of prostatitis.
Acute and chronic bacterial prostatitis.
As the name suggests it has to be a bacterial infection in or around the prostate gland that causes bacterial prostatitis. The acute variant happens suddenly and lasts a short while. Chronic variant develops slowly and last longer, sometimes even up to years. If this is an extension of a bacterial UTI, then the bacteria usually travels from the urethra into the prostate gland.
What are the symptoms of prostatitis?
The symptoms will vary with each type of prostatitis. The range of symptoms varies depending on the cause and the body composition of different individuals.
Symptoms of Chronic Prostatitis:
- pain or discomfort in the pelvic region for 3 or more months
- pain between the scrotum and anal opening.
- pain in the central part of the lower abdomen.
- pain in the penis during ejaculation and urination.
- pain in the scrotum or urethra during and after urination.
- lower back pain that keeps coming and going.
- frequent urination up to 8 or more times a day.
Symptoms of Acute & Chronic Bacterial Prostatitis:
- Urinary frequency and urgency.
- Fever accompanied by chills.
- Burning sensation or pain during urination.
- Pain in the genital and pelvic region.
- Nocturia or frequent urination at night.
- Vomiting, nausea and body aches.
- Urinary blockage or UTIs.
What are the complications of prostatitis?
While prostatitis is treatable, the more severe condition is caused by a bacterial infection. Hence the commonly observed complications are:
- Spread of the infection in the bloodstream.
- Prostatic abscess, where a pus-filled cavity grows around the prostate.
- Sexual dysfunction due to pain during ejaculation and chances of STI.
- The spread of the bacteria creates inflammation around the reproductive organs.
If untreated, prostatitis can become much more severe and can also progress towards prostate cancer and permanent male infertility. So, you must get immediate medical attention when any of the above-mentioned symptoms show up.
When to seek medical help for prostatitis?
Bladder issues, prostate pain and hyperplasia can also signal prostate cancer in the early stages. Therefore men must seek immediate medical help when they notice problems like
- Pain during urination or inability to urinate.
- UTI-like symptoms of fever, chills and frequent urination.
- Blood in urine and discomfort in the urinary tract.
- Pain in the lower abdomen and pelvic region including the scrotum.
A urologist will examine your symptoms and conduct a physical test. Then you will be asked to do a urine sample test which will reveal if there is any bacterial intervention, if yes then the bacteria will be identified with a urine culture report.
Then to check your flow of urine, a uroflowmetry test will be performed where the doctor will check the pressure of your urine. Finally, the doctor will inquire about any family history of prostate-related issues.
Depending on the outcomes of initial tests, the urologist may suggest further blood tests, cystoscopy, transrectal ultrasound, sample biopsy, etc. if he has anything which suggests that the symptoms are early signs of prostate cancer.
To summaries, prostatitis is not a fatal disease or condition. However, it might be an indication of a bigger concern that may be brewing underneath. So it is always safe to get regular prostate exams, at least annually to ensure that you keep conditions like prostatitis at bay. But if you have a family history of this condition or are experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms it is best to reach out to our award-winning team of urologists at the CK Birla Hospital. Book an consultation with Dr Shalabh Agarwal.
How do you know if you have prostatitis?
These are some of the common reasons which might make your urologist suspect that you might have prostatitis.
- Pain during urination.
- Weak urine flow.
- Fever/ chills and frequent urination.
- Prolonged discomfort in the urinary tract.
- Pain in the lower abdomen and pelvic region.
But always get checked and tested under the guidance of a urologist before self-diagnosing yourself.
Is prostatitis a STD?
Prostatitis is often caused due to unexplained inflammation and bacterial infection. Therefore it is not something that can be passed on through sexual intercourse. However, in some cases, it is seen that a sexually transmitted infection might be the cause of Prostatitis symptoms.
Practise safe sex and always consult an experienced specialist in case of any discomfort.
Is prostatitis a UTI?
Prostatitis is caused by a bacterial infection. UTI is also caused by bacterial infection. And the symptoms for both are the same. In the case of Acute or Chronic Bacterial Prostatitis, it acts in the same manner as a UTI infection. Always get an experienced urologist’s opinion to ensure you get prompt and timely treatment.