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Heat therapy for prostatitis involves applying local heat via a heating pad or hot-water bottle to the perineal area to relieve pain. It is considered one of the alternative treatments for chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS). There are other home-based alternative therapies that involve heat such as taking sitz baths.
You can talk to your doctor about more involved heat therapies, also called hyperthermia, such as transurethral microwave hyperthermia and transurethral microwave thermotherapy (TUMT). These types of heat therapies increase the temperature of the prostate to relieve symptoms. These treatments are more invasive and should only be considered as a last resort for treatment if you have not found success with many other treatments.
How Does Heat Therapy Work?
Using local heat by applying a heating pad or hot-water bottle helps to increase blood flow to the area and can help relieve pain. There are a few studies on the more-invasive heat therapies.
It has been reported that treatment with TUMT improves prostatitis symptoms scores by 74.9%. Researchers conducted a randomized, double-blind, sham-controlled study using the prostatitis symptom severity index and questionnaires. They found that TUMT provided a beneficial effect compared to sham treatment. Patients who received TUMT continued to experience improvement of symptoms for over 21 months.
TUMT is an outpatient procedure that is usually performed for men who have an enlarged prostate due to benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). In the TUMT procedure a practitioner inserts a small microwave antenna through the tip of the penis into the urethra. He or she extends the antenna to the area of the urethra that is surrounded by the prostate. The antenna emits microwave energy that heats up the prostate area. The procedure can help improve urinary symptoms, but it may take weeks or months to see the results.
Patients are given a local anesthetic to numb the prostate area and usually undergo intravenous sedation, which may make them drowsy but conscious during the procedure. Patients may experience some heat and discomfort and also have a strong urge to urinate.
Are There Risks of Heat Therapy?
Heat therapy may work for some men but not all. On the contrary, some men find that cold relieves their pain better than heat. Cold therapies may include applying ice packs to the perineal or even placing a small ice cube in the rectum. Also, men who find sitting to be uncomfortable may use cushions and pillows specially made for taking the pressure off the perineal area.
There are a few risks for men who try the TUMT procedure, which is considered experimental. It can cause short-term urinary retention, a urinary tract infection, narrowing of the urethra, retrograde ejaculation (dry orgasm).
Reference for Heat Therapy for Prostatitis:
Mene MP et al. Transurethral microwave hyperthermia in the treatment of chronic non-bacterial prostatitis. J Urol 1998; 159: 1422-1423.