Stress is often referred to as a silent killer. It creeps up on you, on a day to day basis, causing you to slowly unravel.
Despite knowing that high levels of stress are bad for us, being stressed out has (somehow) come to be social normality.
Most men tend to associate stress with cardiovascular diseases, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.
Few of us tend to think of prostate health problems. Yet, increasing research has linked stress as a contributing factor of Prostatitis.
Can stress cause Prostatitis? Keep reading to find out.
What is Prostatitis?
There are four main types of Prostatitis:
- Acute Prostatitis– Acute bacterial Prostatitis is an uncommon type of Prostatitis that is caused by bacteria. It develops very quickly and can be severe.
- Chronic Bacterial Prostatitis– involves a prostate infection. It tends to come and go, causing flare-ups or episodes. Bacterial infection also causes chronic bacterial Prostatitis. It is often seen in men who’ve had frequent UTIs (urinary tract infections). It is generally treated with antibiotics.
- Chronic Non-bacterial Prostatitis (Chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS)– About 9 in 10 men with an inflamed prostate have this type.
- Asymptomatic Prostatitis– is symptomless and is often diagnosed by chance.
Symptoms of Prostatitis
The symptoms experienced may vary depending on the type of Prostatitis, but some of the most common urinary symptoms include:
- Painful urination
- Frequent urination
- Pain in the abdomen or lower back
- Pain of the penis or testicles
- Blood in the urine (hematuria)
- Fever and chills/ flu-like symptoms
- Urethral discharge
- Painful ejaculation or sexual dysfunction
- Pain during sexual intercourse
Stress and Prostatitis
It isn’t always clear what causes Prostatitis. Often, nerves and muscles in the pelvis cause pain because of inflammation or less commonly, a bacterial infection.
In the case of a bacterial infection, a course of antibiotic treatment is prescribed. However, in instances of non-bacterial Prostatitis (chronic pelvic pain syndrome), the cause can be more challenging to determine.
Stress can have a significant impact on both types of Prostatitis. It worsens the symptoms of bacterial Prostatitis, but it also has a role in non-bacterial Prostatitis.
The association between psychological disorders and chronic pelvic pain (CP) has recently garnered much attention. It has even been suggested that the term “stress prostatitis” is an appropriate label for this condition.
Several studies have reported the presence of oxidative stress markers in patients. Therefore, antioxidants can play an essential role in the treatment of chronic bacterial and non-bacterial Prostatitis.
Furthermore, some experts believe that men who suffer stress focus it on their pelvic floor muscles. As a result, tightening of the pelvic floor muscles leads to Prostatitis.
To better understand the risk factors for chronic non-bacterial Prostatitis, researchers collected data from 703 men enrolled in the Flint Men’s Health Study.
Participants were interviewed about their health, lifestyle factors, and asked questions about their emotional health.
The researchers found that poor emotional health, high-stress levels, and a lack of support were associated with a history of Prostatitis.
These results reflected those of a 2002 Harvard study which found that men who experienced severe stress were 1.2 and 1.5 times more likely to report Prostatitis, than those whose lives were relatively stress-free.
A further study published in examined whether stress was associated with pain intensity in men with non-bacterial Prostatitis. They interviewed men about stress and pain intensity via telephone a month after the men were diagnosed, then again three, six, and 12 months later.
The results showed that higher levels of stress during the six months after the health care visit were associated with greater pain intensity.
Despite the study’s limitations, the researchers wrote that these findings support further research into the associations between stress and male pelvic pain syndromes, as well as the assessment of stress in the evaluation of patients with pelvic pain.
Tips for managing stress
Eliminating stress from your life may seem impossible, but it can be achieved.
By taking the time to look after yourself, not only can you lower stress levels, but you can improve your overall health.
- Stress Management Therapy– A group of 218 men complaining of symptoms of chronic Prostatitis were identified. Symptoms included pelvic and genital pain with or without voiding or ejaculation, urinary frequency and/or urgency, and often a thin watery urethral discharge. Of the group, 134 (60%) were followed carefully. With nothing but stress management therapy, 110 patients (86%) reported that they were “better,” “much better,” or “cured.”
- Yoga- Yoga has been shown to help to modulate the stress response system. One study researched the effect of yoga on stress. The researchers reviewed 35 participants. A total of 25 noted a significant decrease in stress and/or anxiety symptoms when a yoga regimen was implemented.
- Support Network– If you are suffering from stress the support of family and friends can help. Many online or in-person communities exist, with other men going through the same conditions.
- Diet– Eating a balanced and healthy diet is key to helping our bodies to manage the physiological changes caused by stress. You should also avoid foods that may worsen symptoms. To find out the best diet for Prostatitis, click here.
Treatment options for Prostatitis
- Antibiotics– Antibiotics are prescribed in cases of bacterial Prostatitis.
- Anti-Inflammatory drugs [NSAIDs])– Anti-inflammatory drugs are used to reduce pain and fever by inhibiting inflammation.
- Alpha-blocking agents– Alpha-blockers are often prescribed to relieve urinary symptoms. However, it is vital to be aware that these prostate drugs can have severe side effects including arrhythmia and orthostatic (postural) hypotension. Find out more about the possible side effects of Alpha blockers here.
- Stool softeners– Stool softeners are used on a short-term basis to relieve constipation by people who should avoid straining during bowel movement.
- Sitz baths– A sitz bath is a warm shallow bath that can help to relieve pain, inflammation, swelling, or irritation in the perineum.
- Pelvic floor exercises– Experts estimate that pelvic floor muscle disorders are responsible for pain in about 50% of CP/CPPS cases. Therefore, doing pelvic floor exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles could help.
- Natural supplements– Quercetin, Saw palmetto, and Pollen extract have been shown to help relieve prostatitis symptoms. A human clinical showed that 1 gram of quercetin daily for four weeks significantly symptoms of chronic non-bacterial Prostatitis.
The benefits of stress management and emotional therapy on prostate health may surprise you.
If you have Prostatitis, stress could be a contributor, so speak with your doctor about ways to reduce stress in your day to day life.