What causes prostatitis?

Prostatitis is a disease of the prostate gland. It is known to cause pain in the groin area, you may experience difficulty urinating and when you do urinate it is likely to be painful. The prostate gland is approximately the same size and shape as a walnut and it produces the components of semen, which is specifically the fluid that helps transport sperm. The prostate gland is located directly below the bladder and actually surrounds the urethra. The urethra is basically a tube which will transport both semen and urine to the penis.

Prostatitis is actually a group of disorders that typically have related symptoms. Certain forms of prostatitis are related to bacterial infections and are able to be effectively treated. However, the bacterial infection form of prostatitis only accounts for up to 10% of all cases. Unfortunately, the more common forms of prostatitis are extremely difficult to diagnose and treat, and are not actually understood that well. With that said, there are certain medications that will help to manage the symptoms and there are currently many new therapies being investigated.

The symptoms of prostatitis very much depend on which form of the disease you have. The National Institute of Health has separated the disease into four different categories and these are all based on specific factors. The most common symptoms of prostatitis that are typically present in all four categories include: a burning sensation whenever you urinate, dribbling or hesitant urination, the urgent need to urinate, frequently requiring to urinate, pain in the abdomen, groin, lower back and the perineum (the area between your penis and rectum), painful ejaculations and pain or discomfort in the penis or testicles.

The four categories of prostatitis include:

  • Acute bacterial prostatitis whereby the additional symptoms include high fever, chills, nausea, vomiting and a general feeling of being unwell.
  • Chronic bacterial prostatitis is most commonly recognised by causing frequent urinary tract infections. Unfortunately, a person suffering with this form of prostatitis may show actually no symptoms or even mild or severe symptoms.
  • Chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain is typically when your symptoms last for a minimum of three months. Although the symptoms may improve over a period of time without any form of treatment, some men may suffer more severe symptoms.
  • Asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis is when you display no symptoms. Unfortunately an inflammation of the prostate gland is usually found by accident and normally when you are undergoing tests for another condition.

The most common causes of both acute and chronic bacterial prostatitis are common strains of bacteria. This will usually involve bacteria being transported in your urine, which will then literally leak from the urethra directly into the prostate. Chronic bacterial prostatitis can often occur because tiny particles of bacteria are hidden inside the prostate and these are usually not eliminated during treatment.

There is, unfortunately, no clearly identifiable cause of chronic prostatitis. Some men never display any evidence of inflammation of the prostate if they are suffering with chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain. There are a few potential causes of chronic prostatitis and these include an immune system disorder, psychological stress, infection, nervous system disorder, traumatic injury or pressure directly onto the prostate from some other form of diseased tissue. The cause of asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis is still unknown and there is currently research being carried out on this disorder.

Young and middle-aged men are most at risk from the different forms of prostatitis. Certain factors are likely to cause prostatitis and these include an HIV infection, dehydration, infection in the bladder or urethra, trauma from horseback riding or cycling or from the use of a urinary catheter.

There are also certain complications of prostatitis that you should be aware of. If you are suffering with acute bacterial prostatitis this may lead to chronic bacterial prostatitis, inflammation of the epididymitis (the tube that is located at the back of the testicles that stores and carries sperm), a bacterial infection of the blood or in some cases a pus-filled cavity may emerge in the prostate. Chronic prostatitis can lead to abnormalities in your semen and may even cause infertility, and it will generally lead to far poorer quality of life.

When your doctor or health care provider is looking to diagnose prostatitis, they must initially rule out any other condition that may be causing your symptoms. You will undergo a general physical exam and there will also be a number of diagnostic tests which may include a symptom questionnaire, which will typically ask you for scores (e.g. from a scale of 1-10) for how much discomfort you are feeling, pain and difficulties in urinating. A digital rectal exam will allow a doctor to manually examine your prostate gland. This is typically done by then inserting a lubricated, gloved finger directly into your rectum. You may also undergo urine and semen tests, a cystoscopy which is basically an instrument that has a light and small magnifying lens or camera that can be inserted directly through the urethra and into the bladder. Your doctor may also wish to order an urodynamic test which will allow them to check whether the bladder is able to empty itself steadily and completely.

Last updated on Jan 27th, 2011 and filed under Genitourinary Disorders. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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