Prostatitis is an extremely common condition affecting men. While it is more common in older men, it can occur at any age.
Essentially, it is an inflammation of the male prostate gland that may be the result of a bacterial or fungal infection. It can also occur without any infection simply from the result of mechanical irritation.
According to some experts, prostatitis is the symptom-producing condition of the genitourinary tract for which men most often seek medical help. Roughly 40 percent of visits by men to urologists are for prostatitis.
In a healthy man, prostatitis can be brought about by irritation to the gland from external stimuli, such as; bike or motorcycle riding, excessive exercise, sexual activity, or even lack of sufficient sexual activity. The term prostatitis is used by many medical professionals for almost all cases of prostate inflammation, even when there is no readily apparent cause.
The purpose of the male prostate gland is to generate fluids for lubrication and transporting sperm containing semen outside the male body during sexual intercourse. This seminal fluid contains enzymes, some minerals, and, most importantly, sperm cells for propagating the species.
Sexual arousal causes accelerated production of the fluids necessary for ejaculation and orgasm. The fluids are stored in the prostate and seminal vesicles until ejaculation takes place and expels them. Powerful muscles in the prostate contract on ejaculation ensure that the semen is forced into the urethra and expelled outward of the penis during sexual intercourse.
When sexual arousal in a male ends without a release from ejaculation, the prostate and associated seminal ducts are left full of seminal fluid, often resulting in the discomfort of prostatitis.
Many young men encounter prostatitis after a lengthy erotic session that does not lead to ejaculation and release. This is often described by a young man using the slang term “blue balls.” The excess unreleased fluid that causes the pain and discomfort is temporary prostatitis. It usually self-resolves within a day or two as the excess fluid leaks out or is absorbed.
Symptoms of Prostatitis
Many of the symptoms of prostatitis are the same or similar to Benign Prostate Hyperplasia (BPH) symptoms, and the two conditions may often coexist.
While the symptoms vary in individuals and severity, some of the most common signs and symptoms of prostatitis include:
- Pain in the abdomen, groin, or lower back.
- Pain or discomfort in the area between the scrotum and rectum.
- General groin pain or discomfort.
- In severe cases, fever, chills, body aches, or flu-like symptoms.
- Penile discharge
- Pain during intercourse or ejaculation
Note that the presence of fever or flu-like symptoms usually indicates a bacterial infection that may require medical intervention.
Types of Prostatitis
Prostate inflammation can come from many different sources, including bacterial and fungal infections. Some cases (especially bacterial prostatitis) can lead to urinary tract infections. In rare cases, parasites can infect the prostate gland.
- Chronic prostatitis is a condition that occurs regularly. Most urologists consider this a bacterial infection and treat it with a course of antibiotics. Often, the antibiotic temporarily clears the infection, but it returns a few weeks later. When antibiotic treatment is unsuccessful, other sources of the symptoms should be evaluated. This is especially true when the condition appears to be resolved by the antibiotic but reoccurs a few weeks later.
- Chronic bacterial prostatitis is when the condition reoccurs regularly and is deemed by laboratory testing to be bacterial in nature. This condition is often very difficult to resolve with conventional medical treatments using antibiotics.
- Acute prostatitis is a severe infection of the prostate. It is sometimes due to a bacterial infection and often results in an accompanying urinary tract infection. A man with acute prostatitis may suddenly develop fever and chills, along with rapidly developing urinary symptoms and pain in the perineum or low back.
- Acute bacterial prostatitis can be serious. A patient may have a high fever and be unable to urinate normally. This is a serious condition necessitating medical treatment.
Men whose sex partners have a bacterial or fungal infection of the vagina can pass their condition to their mates as prostatitis, potentially making this type of prostatitis a sexually transmitted condition.
When there is an apparent infection or other cause of the condition, some urologists prescribe a course of antibiotics as a precaution. There is no indication that viruses can cause prostatitis.
There is no specific test to diagnose prostatitis. Diagnosis is typically made from a patient’s explanation of symptoms, and sometimes urine samples, cultures, and secretions from the prostate may be used. 1
Prostate Infections and Sexual Activity
Men are often hesitant about having sex while they have prostatitis. Generally, this is unnecessary, but the aching pain of a swollen prostate can make it impossible to enjoy sex.
Typically, sexual activity will not cause or exacerbate prostatitis. However, some men may experience pain after ejaculation that can interfere with enjoyment.
Prostatitis is not typically a contagious condition. In the case of bacterial or fungal conditions, it is wise to rule out chronic occurrences due to a sexual partner having an infection. Bacterial infections frequently cause prostatitis, but it is usually not caused by something that can be passed on to your partner during sex.
One exception to this is that a man can get fungal prostatitis due to sexual activity with a female with an active vaginal fungal infection. This is particularly true when the man′s sexual partner is prone to getting recurring vaginal yeast infections. The Candida fungus from the woman′s infection may take up residence in the man′s prostate, causing prostatitis’s discomfort.
Many prostatitis infections are due to excess stress on the prostate, often from extreme physical activity. Especially in younger men, this can be due to lengthy bike riding, exercise, or sexual activity that does not culminate in orgasm and ejaculation.
In rare cases, prostatitis can be caused by a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Sex should not be attempted if there are sores on the genitals or when there are abnormal discharges from the genitals. Such conditions should be evaluated as quickly as possible by a urologist, and sexual activity should not be resumed until the condition is cleared.
A frequent cause of prostatitis is when a man′s sexual partner has an active vaginal candida (yeast) infection. Candida albicans is a fungus that usually is present in both male and female bodies. However, some women tend the Candida fungus in the vagina to multiply out of control. This is typically known as a vaginal yeast infection.
When this occurs, the woman often incurs uncomfortable itching and/or discharge that leads her to seek medical attention. Women with recurring vaginal yeast or fungus infections may transmit or induce a similar infection in their male partners. This infection is essentially fungal in nature and can result in the Candida fungii taking residence in the prostate’s small capillaries, resulting in prostatitis.
In this situation, treating one partner or the other will not result in complete resolution. Even if sexual activity is put on hold, the condition will reoccur as soon as sexual activity resumes.
If one or the other partner is still infected and sexual activity resumes, the infection may be easily passed back to the well partner, re-initiating the problem. Thus, in this case, both partners must get treatment and suspend sexual activity until they both have cleared the infection.
How To Naturally Manage Prostatitis
When long-term courses of antibiotics do not resolve the condition completely, some practitioners will diagnose it as chronic pelvic pain syndrome or inflammatory prostatitis.
This diagnosis is quite common, and since the etiology is generally unknown, it is sometimes followed with a recommendation to “just live with it,” or additional courses of antibiotics.
Men, often they receive a myriad of diagnoses and possible fixes for prostatitis. These can range from long-term treatment with powerful antibiotics to recommendations for surgical removal of the prostate.
Surgery is not typically an option for treating prostatitis. The side effects of any prostate surgery are usually more debilitating then even a severe case of prostatitis. If this is the only option a doctor provides, it may be wise to seek another option from an independent doctor. Some men bounce between multiple doctors looking for a solution.
While prostatitis is common, many practitioners are not well aware of effective treatments for it. This is especially true where the etiology of the condition is fungal rather than bacterial. A man and his sexual partner may pass an infection back and forth between them for long periods of time.
Some practitioners deny the existence of a fungal source for prostatitis, but, for recurring infections, it is imperative to investigate fungal infections, especially if vaginal candida infections of a man′s sexual partner are regular.
Fungal prostatitis is quite common. Treatment requires long-term antifungal agents. Medical doctors typically prescribe antifungal medications for this, but the side effects can be debilitating. A long-term solution can be to use a natural antibiotic/antifungal product like colloidal silver. However, this should be done under the auspices of a natural health practitioner or a naturopath.
While colloidal silver is not approved by the FDA to treat any condition, I have found it very useful in my practice to help resolve prostatitis, especially chronic prostatitis from fungal sources.
Manufacturers are required by the FDA and FTC to label and recommend their products to comply with the guidelines of DSHEA (Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994). Therefore, products like colloidal silver can only be advertised for oral ingestion under the FDA′s structure/function claim of “Immune Support.” However, due to the FDA′s position, most medical professionals do not embrace it. 3
Prostatitis is not generally a life-threatening condition, but it can result in some debilitating symptoms. Unless there is a known contagious condition in one of the partners, avoiding sex is not advisable or necessary. In fact, regular sexual activity that includes male ejaculation is usually beneficial.
The prostate generates nearly all of the fluids that are expelled during a man′s orgasm. It increases the production of these fluids when the man is sexually aroused in preparation for release on orgasm and ejaculation. Sperm cells are mixed with the prostatic fluids, but contrary to popular belief, they are only a very small part of the ejaculate.
If the arousal is prematurely ended and release does not occur, the excess ejaculate remains in the prostate. Depending on the amount of unreleased fluid, this can cause symptoms of prostatitis. The symptoms usually self resolve in a day or two. Having sex with ejaculation at least once per week may improve the condition significantly and prevent its recurrence.
When the cause of the prostatitis is known to be unreleased ejaculate, the resolution of the symptoms can be accelerated by masturbation that results in having an orgasm and ejaculating the excess fluid. For some men, religious or cultural concerns may eliminate this option.
There are many ways to treat prostatitis, and they differ due to the cause of the problem. In any event, prostatitis is usually not a severe medical condition, but it may require the help of a medical