Prostatitis occurs when the prostate gland becomes swollen and inflamed. It may occur suddenly or gradually. It may be easily treatable, or it may persist for months. The symptoms of prostatitis can range from dysuria (pain and burning during urination) to flu-like symptoms. You might also experience painful orgasms, pain in the abdomen or lower back, or pain in the groin region. Prostatitis may cause frequent or urgent urination, along with difficult urination. The bottom line is, it’s painful, and the symptoms are similar across all four types of prostatitis.
The treatment for prostatitis depends on the underlying cause, but unfortunately, the cause is frequently unknown. Your doctor will do a little investigative work to figure out which type of prostatitis you have before prescribing a course of treatment.
Acute bacterial prostatitis
Acute bacterial prostatitis is the most serious type, but it’s also not as common. It is caused by bacteria, such as E. coli. The symptoms can strike you very quickly. In addition to pain in the pelvic region and genitals, you’ll likely experience fever, nausea, vomiting, chills, and burning during urination. Prompt medical treatment is required for this type of prostatitis, as complications can include abscesses, blocked urine flow, and low blood pressure. The complications may even be life-threatening if the condition is left untreated.
Chronic bacterial prostatitis
Chronic bacterial prostatitis refers to a bacterial infection of the prostate gland that persists for months. Symptoms may subside, but then flare up again. It is thought that some men may have the condition for several years before they display symptoms. The typical symptoms of chronic bacterial prostatitis are similar to that of acute bacterial prostatitis, however they are less severe. Your doctor might have difficulty diagnosing this condition, because the bacteria may not always be present in your urine.
Chronic nonbacterial prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome
About 90% of men who are diagnosed with prostatitis have this particular type. Like chronic bacterial prostatitis, men with this type may experience symptoms that come and go. This type of prostatitis is diagnosed if you experience symptoms like genital and urinary pain for at least three months. The doctor will be unable to detect bacteria in your urine. You may or may not exhibit signs of prostate gland inflammation.
The possible causes of chronic nonbacterial prostatitis are unclear, but they may include irritation from chemicals, irritation from a backup of urine flow, nerve problems, viruses, or a past bacterial infection. It has also been suggested that sexual abuse, parasites, atypical bacteria, or pelvic floor muscle problems may be to blame.
Asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis
If you are diagnosed with prostatitis, cross your fingers that you have this type. Asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis means that you have prostatitis, but fail to experience any symptoms. It does not require treatment. In fact, it’s usually discovered by accident when you undergo tests for other issues. With asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis, you will have an inflamed prostate and an elevated prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level.
Read more in our Prostatitis Health Center.