Living with Prostatitis
Can I Have Sex With Prostatitis?
Medically reviewed by Dr. Paul Song M.D
If you have prostatitis, you may be wondering, “Can I have sex with prostatitis?” Yes, you can have sex, however you do need to use caution and consider certain factors such as pain, spread of infection, and transmission of bacteria. Sometimes prostatitis causes other sexual problems such as low libido, erectile dysfunction (ED), ejaculatory dysfunction, and stress, which can make sex more difficult.
Sexual dysfunction can affect a large number of men with chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS). Researchers surveyed 298 men with CP/CPPS about their sexual function and quality of life. The average age was 42, and the men had experienced symptoms for an average of two years. Of the men, 73% reported sexual dysfunction, with 25% of those reporting ED only, 33% reporting ejaculatory dysfunction only, and 42% reporting both. The men experiencing sexual dysfunction had worse CP/CPPS symptoms and worse quality of life than the patients without sexual dysfunction. Sexual dysfunction plays an important role in the illness and may be important to measure in treatment studies, said the investigators.
Can I Have Sex with Prostatitis? Dealing with Pain
Some men experience pain with sex when they have prostatitis. This can present in different ways, but you may have pain during sex, during orgasm, or after sex is finished. You may also see blood in your semen. As you can imagine this is very frustrating and embarrassing to some men, and it can affect intimacy with your partner, leading to relationship problems and stress.
The good news is that there are many different ways to address your pain. You can use phytotherapy, stress management techniques, mediation, a variety of alternative techniques, and as a last resort medication.
One natural therapy for sexual pain is phytotherapy. Phytotherapy for prostatitis involves combining two supplements, quercetin and bee pollen extracts (often with probiotics to help restore gut health). Both of these supplements are anti-inflammatories and both have many successful clinical studies and research supporting their effectiveness in helping with prostatitis symptoms, including pain and urinary symptoms. Additionally, the UPOINT system for prostatitis treatment recommends phytotherapy and quercetin for the organ specific and pelvic floor spasms domains of prostatitis.
Some studies on phytotherapy include the following:
- A randomized, multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, that lasted 12 weeks, was published in European Urology. Reserachers reported that the 70 men who took Cernilton pollen extract had significant improvements in their pain, prostatitis symptoms, and quality of life (without any severe side effects). compared to 60 men who took a placebo.
- The American Urological Association presented a study on Cernilton in 2006. They reported that men who took Cernilton had statistically significant improvements in their pelvic discomfort and quality of life.
- In January 2006, a double-blind study published in Urology reported that men with CP/CPPS who took a pollen extract for six months were either symptom free or had experienced a significant improvement in their symptoms. The authors concluded that that the pollen extract was “superior to placebo in providing symptomatic relief in men with chronic nonbacterial prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome.”
- The Cleveland Clinic reported that quercetin improves symptoms of prostatitis. Researchers treated 100 men according to the UPOINT model. An average of 3 UPOINT domains were positive, with organ-specific being the most common (70%). The main goal of the study was at least a 6-point decline in the Chronic Prostatitis Symptom Index (CPSI). Quercetin was chosen as the treatment for men who were in the organ-specific category of men. Compared with other treatments for prostatitis used in the study, quercetin was associated with a greater decline in the CPSI.
- A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study on quercetin also produced positive results. A total of 28 men who had nonbacterial CP/CPPS took either 500 mg of quercetin or a placebo twice a day for one month. At the end of the month, the International Prostate Symptom Score declined from 21.0 to 13.1 in the quercetin group and from 20.2 to 18.8 in the placebo group.
There is much positive research on using quercetin and pollen for treating pelvic pain and sex-related pain for prostatitis. That is why phytotherapy is considered a Tier 1 supplement for prostatitis and has gained the attention of the medical community.
Besides phytotherapy, you can consider other supplements such as stinging nettle or pygeum. Alternative treatments that reduce stress (such as meditation, yoga, tai chi, and other exercises) can help reduce your pain from prostatitis. They can also help with other sexual problems such as lack of libido and erectile dysfunction. Having a chronic pain condition or ongoing illness is very stressful, and stress hormones can lower your testosterone, making it more difficult for you to achieve an erection or have sex. They can help you to relax tight pelvic floor muscles, which may be contributing to your pelvic and sex-related pain. Consider the many alternative chronic prostatitis and pelvic pain treatments available to help you resolve your pain so you can enjoy having sex again. Some are easy to do at home while others involve therapists and learning how to treat pelvic floor muscle disorders.
As a last resort, there are pain medications. Some have side effects or can affect your sexual health though, so be sure to talk to your doctor before taking medication for sexual pain. You may be able to take some over-the-counter ibuprofen short-term, but there are also some prescription drugs that may help.
Is Prostatitis Contagious Through Sex?
A man cannot give his partner prostatitis, so you do not have to worry about being contagious. However, you can get prostatitis through sexual activity. Bacterial prostatitis is caused by several different types of bacteria, and some of them are sexually transmitted. If your partner has certain bacteria and you engage in unprotected sex, you can develop prostatitis.
One bacterium that can cause prostatitis is Escherichia coli. Having anal sex without a condom could cause E. coli to enter your urethra. When the bacteria enter the urethra they can get into the bladder and make their way into the prostate via the urine. Once in prostate, bacteria can cause inflammation and chronic prostatitis symptoms.
Several known causes of nonbacterial CP/CPPS include sexual habits and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). Unprotected sex with a partner with a sexually transmitted disease (STD) could cause bacteria to enter the urethra, just as engaging in anal sex without a condom could cause bacteria to enter the urethra and cause infections. Other sexual activity risks include having unprotected sex with multiple sexual partners.
Your sexual habits can cause or worsen prostatitis symptoms. Your frequency of sexual activity, type of sexual activity you engage in, number of sexual partners you have, and any STDs you might contract can all play a role in increasing your risk of developing CP/CPPS. Some men have even reported that their prostatitis symptoms began after engaging in tantric sex practices that involved tightly gripping the penis to prevent ejaculation.
Even though some STDs are associated with bacterial prostatitis, STDs can also lead to CP/CPPS by creating inflammation in the prostate. Also, since some STDs have no symptoms in men, men may not even know they have an STD and not seek treatment until they end up with prostatitis symptoms. You doctor should therefore rule out any STDs. Even though chronic prostatitis is not usually caused by bacteria, when it comes to sexual habits, bacteria and viruses including HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) could play an initial role.
It is important for you to be honest with your doctor about your sexual habits, especially when diagnosing prostatitis, so he or she can help you find the right chronic prostatitis treatment. Tell your doctor if you participate in risky sexual behavior such as sex with multiple partners, having unprotected sex, and having anal sex without a condom.
Having Sex to Prevent Prostatitis
Here is the news most men want to hear: Having sex and ejaculating is good for your prostate health. If you are not sexually active you aren’t off the hook from sex-related problems, because lack of sexual activity can also lead to chronic prostatitis. According to some experts, semen can accumulate in the prostate. If it is there too long it causes inflammation, so it is important for men to ejaculate regularly.
Try to ejaculate every week. If you do not have a partner, you might have to take matters into your own hands to keep the prostate flushed out. Regular ejaculation is more difficult if you experience pain during intercourse, painful ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, or reduced libido. Look for natural and alternative treatments that can help with these problems. Try using phytotherapy with pollen and quercetin for any pain, and talk to your doctor about any other sexual issues you have.