The prostate gland might be small in size, but it does play a critical part in reproductive health. Problems with the prostate can affect structures other than the prostate too.
Men with prostate problems often find that their urinary function is adversely affected, for example. Several conditions can affect the prostate gland. Some are more serious than others.
A particularly common issue in men is prostate stones. This is different from bladder stones. While not as serious as prostate cancer, the complications of prostate stones are often overlooked. The condition plays a role in the development of prostatitis too.
We take a closer look at what prostate stones are in this post. We also consider the symptoms and causes of the condition. The post also shares some useful details about the treatment options for prostate stones.
What Are Prostate Stones?
We will start by taking a closer look at what prostate stones are. These are usually small stones that develop in the prostate gland of a male patient. The condition is sometimes referred to as prostatic calculi.
In most cases, prostate stones are found in older men. Middle-aged men also seem to be at risk for prostate stones, however. The condition can be classified as either primary or secondary stones.
- Primary prostate stones are sometimes also called endogenous stones.
- Secondary stones are generally referred to as extrinsic prostate stones.
Causes linked to the two types of prostate stones that a person may develop differently. This is why it is crucial to consider the location of the stones. This can tell a physician the type of prostate stones that the patient has.
It also helps with finding the reason for the development of prostatic calcification. The formation of these stones can sometimes even signal problems with the prostate tissue, such as an enlargement.
A strong connection also exists between prostatitis and prostate stones. In one study2, 47 male patients were analyzed. All men had been diagnosed with prostatitis. Transrectal ultrasound was used to diagnose prostatitis in these patients. Among male patients, 47% suffered from calcification. This means almost half of the men had prostate stones present in the gland.
Essentially, prostate stones are calcifications. This means some type of substance was present in the prostate that became calcified in the process. The calcification process is what causes the substance to harder. In turn, it forms stone-like structures that may cause problems with the prostate gland.
In most cases, prostate stones measure one to four millimeters in diameter. There are a lot of times when a man will not have any symptoms. In some men, only a few prostate stones will develop. There are, however, cases where a man may have hundreds of these prostatic stones in their prostate gland.
What Causes Prostate Stones?
Being educated about prostate stones is the first step for men to understand the condition better. At the moment, many theories have been suggested regarding the causes behind prostate stones. It is known that a calcification process is involved in the development of these stones.
Several suggestions have been made regarding the specific factors that may be involved in causing the calcification of these substances. Furthermore, there are also suggestions regarding the specific substances that may be calcified in the process of prostate stone development.
One suggestion link prostate stones to a condition known as benign prostatic hyperplasia. This is a condition where the prostate gland becomes enlarged. The gland is affected by inflammation. It is also known that the prostate gland causes problems with the urinary tract.
The inflammation that affects the prostate gland is thought to affect the secretion of fluids and substances from the prostate. This can cause the secretions to become thick. As the fluid becomes thick, it starts to bind with proteinaceous substances that are located in the prostate gland.
This can cause fluids to calcify and become hard. In turn, prostate stones may develop. Prostate enlargement has also been previously linked to a higher risk of developing bladder calculi3.
Prostate stones have also been associated with infection. When the infection affects the prostate gland, it generally causes pus to collect in the gland. Other debris also collects in the prostate gland when the infection is present. This is also where the possible connection between prostatitis and prostate stones come in.
A bacterial infection in the gland will cause pus to accumulate. The pus and debris that collects in the prostate gland may harden. As they harden, they start to form stones.
The same effect may not be present in a patient affected by nonbacterial prostatitis. In such a case, however, inflammation can still develop in the prostate gland. The inflammation may have a similar effect as the swelling that occurs with an enlarged prostate.
It is also important to consider the fact that waste material sometimes accumulates in the patient’s ejaculatory ducts. In some cases, it is thought that the waste materials may become calcified. This might also contribute to the development of prostate stones.
What Are The Symptoms Of Prostate Stones?
A large number of men who have prostate stones will not experience symptoms. Sometimes, some symptoms develop that may not be specific to prostate stones. Several other conditions may also be linked to the specific symptoms that the patient complains about.
For this reason, men should be aware of all symptoms that are generally associated with prostate stones. This can help them realize when it may be appropriate to see a doctor. Even when symptoms do not lead to the diagnosis of prostate stones, another underlying cause may be identified in the process.
Pain is a relatively common problem that men complain about when they have prostate stones. The pain symptoms may occur in the penis. Some men find that their perineum becomes painful. This is the area between the scrotum and the anus. There are also some cases where men develop lower back pain when they have prostate stones4.
Urination difficulty is another potential symptom of prostate stones. This is especially the case when the stones cause a man to experience inflammation in his prostate gland.
The inflammation causes the prostate gland to constrict the urethra. It is important to consider the fact that the urethra runs through the prostate gland. This can make urinating more difficult.
The complications should be considered, too, along with their symptoms. Prostate stones can put a man at risk for a urinary tract infection. Men with prostate stones may also develop prostatitis5. There are three different classifications of prostatitis: acute bacterial prostatitis, chronic bacterial prostatitis, and chronic nonbacterial prostatitis.
Signs of prostatitis may include6:
- Groin/ pelvic pain
- Rectal pain
- Lower back pain
- Abdominal pain
- There may be blood in the patient’s urine (hematuria)
- Urination frequency may increase
- There may be pain symptoms when urinating
- Some people experience body aches
- There may be a urethral discharge
- Ejaculation may be painful
- Chills and fever may be experienced
- Some men also complain about malaise
- Urinary tract infections
Some people experience sexual dysfunction when they develop prostatitis.
When these symptoms appear, they may indicate a complication caused by prostate stones. In such a case, obtaining medical treatment becomes even more critical.
What To Do About Prostate Stones And Prostatitis?
When symptoms linked to prostate stones or prostatitis develop, the first step is for the patient to make an appointment with their physician. A physical examination is important, along with some additional tests.
Diagnosis of the stones is crucial, since some symptoms may be linked to other conditions.
Several tests can be performed to confirm a diagnosis.
A digital rectal examination can be used to assist with the diagnosis of prostate stones. During this procedure, a doctor will place a single finger into the male patient’s rectum. A glove is worn by the doctor during the process. A lubricant agent will also be placed on the glove to reduce discomfort.
When a doctor identifies any abnormalities during the digital rectal exam, additional tests will usually be ordered. A standard x-ray may be taken. This is a useful tool that can help a physician diagnose prostate stones.
Many physicians also prefer the use of an ultrasound. Sometimes, the ultrasound will be conducted through the patient’s rectum. This provides a clearer overview of the prostate gland. It also helps the doctor determine the specific problem contributing to the symptoms that the patient is complaining about.
There are cases where the stones are detected through prostate turp too. This procedure is most often conducted as a treatment for another condition.
Treatment For Prostate Stones
When diagnosed with prostate stones, a patient needs to consider the available treatments and medications available. Early treatment can help to reduce the risk of complications that have been associated with prostatic stones.
Initial treatment will often include the use of antibiotics. This is to help clear any bacteria that might be contributing to an infection in the patient’s prostate gland. When no bacterial infection is detected, however, antibiotics may not be used as a treatment option.
When antibiotics are used, the patient will usually take a daily dose of medicine for up to 10 weeks. The minimum period during which antibiotics are prescribed for prostate stones that are linked to a bacterial infection will usually be around eight weeks.
Men do need to realize that antibiotics will not clear up the prostate stones. It will only help to clear out any bacteria that may cause infection in the prostate gland.
Additional treatment will still be needed to help with the removal of the stones that have developed in the prostate gland.
The two primary treatment methods that are generally provided to men with prostate stones include:
- Transurethral resection of the prostate
- Supra-pubic prostatectomy
Both of these procedures are generally considered invasive and can result in adverse side effects. Speak to your urologist about the potential side effects, and surgery would be required with both of the treatment options. To make transurethral resection of the prostate more successful, an ultrasound may be used during the procedure.
With transurethral resection of the prostate, a part of the prostate will be removed during surgery. There are cases where not all of the stones are removed successfully during the surgery.
A supra-pubic prostatectomy is only advised in some instances. This may be the recommendation for a man with large prostate stones. The procedure may also be used in a man with a more significant enlargement of their prostate gland.
After the treatment has been provided, a patient may need to make certain lifestyle changes. The lifestyle changes should aim to speed up the process of healing in the prostate gland. It should also help to relieve prostate inflammation. The patient is likely to experience inflammation in their prostate gland following the surgical procedure.
Certain foods need to be removed from the patient’s diet. This includes foods that are high in sugar and saturated fats. Processed foods also need to be avoided to help limit inflammation in the prostate gland.
Whole foods should start to form a critical part of the patient’s diet. This includes foods like nuts, seeds, fresh fruits and vegetables, and fatty fish. Foods that are high in lycopene can also be useful. Lycopene has been linked to several potential benefits for the prostate gland.
Prostate stones have many potential causes and can contribute to certain complications. A lot of men do not experience obvious symptoms that may signal prostate stones. When symptoms appear, they may often be similar to signs of prostatitis.
Obtaining a diagnosis for prostate stones help to ensure treatment can be provided before complications develop. There are different treatment options available. Some are more invasive than others. Men should understand what causes the condition and what they can do ab