What is Prostatitis?

Bhavna Singh   by Bhavna Singh, MS, Biotechnology    Last updated on October 3, 2019,

what is prostatitis ?


What is prostate gland?

The prostate gland is a small walnut-sized gland situated below and right in front of the bladder in males. This gland surrounds urethra, the tube through which semen and urine exit body. Prostate gland has two or more lobes which are enclosed by an outer layer of tissue.

The gland is a part of the male reproductive system and its function is to produce semen (fluid) which nourishes and protects sperms when they travel to female egg. Prostate fluid or semen is essential for men’s fertility.


Swelling and inflammation in prostate gland is called as Prostatitis. It often causes difficulty in urination and pain to the person suffering. Just like any other inflammation, prostatitis can be associated with the response of body towards infection.

It sometimes causes flu-like symptoms and pain in the groin, pelvic area and genitals. Prostatitis can develop in men of any age but it commonly affects men between the ages of 30 to 50 years.

The exact cause of prostatitis is not known or we can say that there are multiple factors that cause prostatitis.

The onset of this disease may be gradual or sudden depending upon the causative agent. Some patients take more than a month to recover and at times, the infection may recur. This condition is called as chronic prostatitis. The patient might improve quickly, either with treatment or on its own.

The disease should not be confused with cancer of the prostate and enlarged prostate. On the basis of phases of infection, the disease is categorized into two stages:

  • Chronic prostatitis: This type of prostatitis may come and go over a period of a month and is the most common type of prostate condition. It is not usually caused by infection.
  • Acute prostatitis: In this type of prostatitis, severe symptoms develop suddenly. It is quite rare but very serious. Acute prostatitis requires immediate attention and treatment. It is caused by infection.

The infection is often caused by bacteria in the groin area. The infection may be due to the leaking of bacteria present in urine into prostate gland or may be due to sexual contact with an already infected person.

E.coli is the most commonly found bacteria in the semen of person suffering from prostatitis. Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial prostatitis.

The chances of recurring of infection are very high if the bacteria are not completely removed from the gland. Recurring infections and chronic infections are in turn quite difficult to treat. 

Another reason of developing prostatitis is nerve damage in lower urinary tract due to surgery or trauma to the area. In most of the cases, causes are not identified. The causes of prostatitis differ depending on the type. On an average, about 2 million people report this condition in a year. Broadly, prostatitis is categorized into following four types:

  • Acute Bacterial Prostatitis
  • Chronic Bacterial Prostatitis
  • Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome
  • Asymptomatic Inflammatory Prostatitis

The above-mentioned types of prostatitis are explained as:

Acute Bacterial Prostatitis

Bacterial infection is the root cause of this type of prostatitis. The bacteria travel from urethra or rectum to prostate gland. It is the least common but severe form of prostatitis and may begin abruptly.

Symptoms of this problem are sudden and painful. They may require health consultation right away. Following are the symptoms commonly reported:

  • severe burning sensation during urination
  • pain during urination and micturition (feeling of urinating)
  • fever and chills
  • muscle pain
  • fatigue

In addition, the patient may also feel pain at the base of penis and scrotum. Pain in the lower back with a feeling of a full colon is often associated with it.

Due to swelling in the prostate, the person may feel difficult to urinate. The urine stream may become less in some cases.  Immediate medical attention is required in this case.

Chronic Bacterial Prostatitis

This type of prostatitis is categorized with recurring of bacterial infection in the prostate gland. Symptoms may be minor between two attacks and the patient may even feel disease-free. This type of prostatitis is quite difficult to treat.

Some symptoms are mentioned here:

  • burning sensation during urination
  • frequent urge to urinate (especially at night)
  • pain during intercourse and ejaculation
  • pain in testicles, penis and bladder
  • pain between genitals and anal opening

The infection is low-grade and can persist for weeks and months. Symptoms are not flu-like as in case of acute prostatitis.

Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome (CPPS)

Chronic non-bacterial prostatitis, also known as chronic pelvic pain syndrome is the most common form of prostatitis. The symptoms are somewhat common with Chronic Bacterial Prostatitis. However, no bacteria are found to trigger it.

Doctors suggest that it may be a result of series of events in the human body. The initiating factor may be:

  • stress
  • undetectable infection-causing agent
  • physical trauma

Depending on the presence and absence of infection-fighting calls in urine, semen and prostatic fluid, it is further categorized as inflammatory and non-inflammatory type. Some of the signs are mentioned below:

  • burning sensation and pain during urination
  • pain in the bladder
  • trouble in ejaculation
  • frequent urge to urinate (especially at night)
  • pain in testicles, penis and bladder
  • pain between genitals and anal opening

The condition leads to high sensitivity and sometimes may even cause nerve damage. Chronic non-bacterial prostatitis may negatively affect bladder, sexual functioning and bowel movement of the person.

Asymptomatic Inflammatory Prostatitis

This condition is diagnosed incidentally during checkups for infertility and prostate cancer. The person suffering may not complain of any symptom or discomfort. The infection is detected on the basis of the presence and absence of infection-fighting cells (white blood cells) in the semen and prostatic fluid.

It may eventually get better with proper treatment. The patient may not show any obvious signs. It may be found when the person is being checked for other problems.

Following are the symptoms of Asymptomatic Inflammatory Prostatitis:

  • pain and trouble in urination
  • strain on bladder muscles during urination
  • frequent urge to urinate
  • burning sensation during urination
  • painful ejaculation
  • painful bowel movement
  • pain in lower back, pelvis and pubic area
  • blood in semen
  • sexual dysfunction in severe cases

The symptoms, though can be mild, should never be ignored. Frequent painful conditions may be a warning sign for the person. The disease is somewhat common but can be treated with proper medications and healthcare consultation and available treatment for prostatitis.

Bhavna Singh

Bhavna Singh is a biotechnologist with a special interest in molecular biology, genetic engineering, recombinant DNA technology, and biochemistry. She pursued her Master’s degree in Biotechnology from Gautam Buddha University, Greater Noida. Bhavna has also worked as a Research Fellow at Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), New Delhi.

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