Prostatitis is an inflammation of the prostate gland. The prostate gland, which is only found in men, is located at the base on the bladder where the urinary and genital ducts meet. The prostate produces seminal fluid which mixes with sperm to form semen.
There are two broad categories of prostatitis:
Infectious prostatitis is caused by bacteria. Generally speaking, one will feel a burning sensation when urinating. There are two types of infectious prostatitis: chronic prostatitis and acute prostatitis. Chronic prostatitis is recurring and is accompanied by a frequent need to urinate. Acute prostatitis is more serious and requires urgent medical treatment. Blood may be present in the urine. Certain sexually transmitted infections (STI) can cause prostatitis. Prostatitis itself however, is not a STI.
The cause of noninfectious prostatitis is unknown. It may be associated with: an abnormal urinary tract, engaging in physical activities that are too intense (running and cycling can irritate the prostate), lifting weights or objects that are too heavy (a bladder that is too full can push the urine into the prostate, causing inflammation).
Persons most at risk
One in every 10 men will develop prostatitis in his lifetime. The risk of inflammation seems to increase with age. The following factors also seem to increase one's risk of developing this condition:
- Recent operation or medical procedure requiring the insertion of a catheter in the urethra
- Recent bladder infection
- If one does any of the following activities on a regular basis: running or jogging, cycling and horseback riding
Men with HIV also seem to be more at risk, even though the cause remains unknown.
In addition to pain around the anus, all forms of prostatitis cause painful ejaculation as well as a burning feeling when urinating. Furthermore, it increases urination frequency and causes difficulty urinating. Acute prostatitis is accompanied by high fever and general discomfort.
A urine culture is used to promptly confirm the diagnosis. A prostate massage can also be performed to collect fluid for analysis purposes. In other cases, a digital rectal exam will allow the physician to assess whether the prostate is swollen.
After the age of 40, it is important for men not to confuse prostatitis and cancer of the prostate. Physicals carried out by doctors therefore take on a much greater importance and are crucial.
If the infection reaches the blood stream, the patient can develop a general infection known as septicemia. If the inflammation persists, the risk of prostatic abscess, testicular infection and infertility increase significantly.
Treatment generally consists of antibiotics. For those under 40 years of age, the condition clears up quickly, whereas it can take up to three months in those who are older than 40 years. Medical follow-up consists of the same tests each time.
Here are a few simple tips to help lower your risk of developing prostatitis:
- Drink plenty of water
- Urinate at regular intervals
- Limit your intake of alcohol, spicy foods and caffeine
- If you cycle, invest in a split saddle
A safe and healthy sex life can also help reduce the risk of health problems.