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Your doctor has determined that you have prostatitis, an infection or inflammation of the prostate gland. The condition affects men of all ages, and is the most common urological disorder in those over age 50. About half of all men will experience prostatitis at some point. Prostatitis does not increase the risk of developing prostate cancer and it is not cancer.

About the Condition

The prostate gland is typically the size of a walnut, located below the bladder and in front of the rectum in men. It surrounds a portion of the urethra, or tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body. Its main purpose is to produce fluid for semen, which transports sperm.

Prostatitis develops for a variety of reasons, and there are four main categories of the condition:

•  Nonbacterial Prostatitis
•  Prostatodynia
•  Acute Bacterial Prostatitis
•  Chronic Bacterial Prostatitis

Nonbacterial prostatitis and prostatodynia occur the most often. Bacterial prostatitis accounts for less than 10% of all cases.

Nonbacterial prostatitis indicates an inflamed prostate without a bacterial infection. Prostatodynia, also called chronic pelvic pain syndrome, means that there are symptoms of prostatitis without inflammation or a bacterial infection. Possible sources of these forms of prostatitis include urinary reflux (urine flowing backward into the prostate ducts), physical injury, a nerve condition, muscle tension, urinary stones, a suppressed immune system and sexually transmitted diseases.

Acute bacterial prostatitis happens most often in men under age 35, while the chronic variety mainly affects those ages 40 to 70. With acute bacterial prostatitis, severe complications can develop if it is not treated promptly. The infection can spread into the bloodstream and cause a life-threatening situation. With chronic bacterial prostatitis, the symptoms are less severe but recurring and are also likely to affect the urinary tract. Possible sources of bacterial prostatitis include a recent bladder infection or urinary catheterization and an abnormal urinary tract.

Treatment Options

Deciding on a treatment plan can be complex and depend upon a variety of factors, such as your type of prostatitis, age, general health condition and personal preferences. The following treatment possibilities are available for each form of prostatitis:

Acute Bacterial Prostatitis
Almost all acute bacterial prostatitis infections can be cured with antibiotic treatment. Medication is usually taken for 14 days, but sometimes is continued for as long as four weeks. For some patients, antibiotic treatment is first started intravenously at the hospital and then followed by a course of oral antibiotics.

Chronic Bacterial Prostatitis
Patients with chronic bacterial prostatitis need antibiotic treatment for a longer period of time than those with the acute form. Medication is usually taken from 4–12 weeks and clears up the condition about 60% of the time. For persistent cases, long-term antibiotic therapy may be used to relieve symptoms. Other medications or treatments, such as prostate massage therapy, may also be used in difficult cases. Surgery to remove part of the prostate gland is done in rare cases for patients with lasting pain and complications.

Non-Bacterial Prostatitis
Depending on their symptoms, patients may receive one or more of a variety of treatments for non-bacterial prostatitis. Options include alpha blocker drugs to relax muscle tissue in the prostate, anti-inflammatory medications, massage to drain the prostate ducts and heat therapy.

Muscle relaxants, alpha-blockers, biofeedback and relaxation exercises may help relieve some of the symptoms of prostatodynia. Surgery to remove part of the prostate gland is done in rare cases for patients with lasting pain and complications.

What You Can Do

To help reduce the pain and inflammation of prostatitis and the need to strain when passing stools, which can aggravate prostate pain, you can:

•  Take an over-the-counter medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen
•  Employ hydrotherapy up to three times each day by sitting in a tub of hot water for 15–30 minutes
•  Alternate cold soaks with hot soaks, or use hot and cold packs applied between the scrotum and anus (do not use heat if you have acute infection or inflammation)
•  Avoid sugar, caffeine, dairy products, and fried and refined foods
•  Drink plenty of water and eat healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, soy, seeds and nuts, olive oil and cold-water fish (e.g., salmon, tuna, halibut, mackerel)
•  Strive to minimize stress through exercise and relaxation techniques
•  Take dietary supplements or herbs such as zinc, quercetin, vitamin E, saw palmetto, echinacea or goldenseal

Be sure to consult your doctor before taking any supplements or herbs.

Additional Resources

American Foundation for Urologic Disease, 800.828.7866,
The Prostatitis Foundation, 888. 891.4200,
Urology Channel,

This patient resource sheet is provided to you as a service of CBLPath® and is intended for information purposes only. It may not fully describe all aspects of your diagnosis and is not meant to serve as medical advice or a substitute for professional medical care. Your physician can provide you with a thorough explanation of your diagnosis and appropriate treatment options, which may vary. Only you and your physician can determine your best treatment plan.

Updated 9.07