The prostate is a tiny, walnut-sized gland that can be found in the male reproductive system. It is located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum. It is made up of thousands of fluid-producing glands and its primary function is to secrete hormones and proteins that are added to the ejaculatory fluid. These hormones and proteins are responsible for extending the lifetime of sperm cells and making sure they reach the egg cell. The prostate also surrounds the urethra (the tube that connects the urinary bladder to the genitals) so it also plays a part in the flow or control of urine. Any condition that affects the prostate is bound to result in urinary problems.
A common prostate disorder is called prostatitis. It is the most common urological condition to affect men below the age of 50 and the third most common among those older than 50 (after BPH and prostate cancer). It is a general term used to refer to inflammation of the prostate or an infected prostate. There are four types of prostatitis:
-Acute bacterial prostatitis. This is the least common type but it is potentially life-endangering and usually presents itself as an acute urinary tract infection. It is generally the result of an infection spreading to the prostate from other body parts.
-Chronic bacterial prostatitis. Relatively uncommon, it is a condition in which the infection and other symptoms develop slowly. The infection stays within the prostate.
-Chronic prostatitis without infection. This is the most common type and is also known as chronic pelvic pain syndrome. Though its causes are unclear, its symptoms are recurrent rectal, pelvic, or testicle pain without the presence of a bladder infection.
-Asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis. As the name suggests, this is a type of prostatitis in which symptoms are absent. Evidence of inflammation is found following laboratory tests or physical and rectal examinations.
If left untreated, prostatitis may progress into infertility or more serious urinary problems.
The causes of prostatitis are not clear. However, the disease may exhibit a number of symptoms (often sudden and severe) and it is crucial to contact one’s health care provider or doctor once these symptoms are felt to get a proper diagnosis and to begin treatment.
Pain in the groin and lower back area. This is the most common symptom of the disease. Recurrent pelvic, rectal or testicle pain without a bladder infection may be signs of chronic prostatitis without infection.
Urinary symptoms such as difficulty, painful, or urgent urination. Since the urethra carries the urine out of the body and runs through the center of the prostate gland, an inflammation may constrict it and cause problems. This infection could also extend to the bladder, causing small amounts of blood to appear in the urine, too. The symptoms are also similar to that of a urinary tract infection and prompt medical attention is needed.
Pain during or after ejaculation is a symptom for CPPS or chronic pelvic pain syndrome. Other related symptoms are premature ejaculation, retarded or delayed ejaculation, and unsatisfactory ejaculation. In rare cases, blood may appear in the semen.
A decreased libido or sexual appetite is another symptom, brought about by experiencing aggravated pain during arousal caused by the infection.
Fever, chills, and other flu-like symptoms such as body pains, shakes, and malaise are especially common in cases of acute bacterial prostatitis.
Penile discharge, usually a thick, discolored fluid around the head of the penis. In cases of acute bacterial prostatitis, penile discharge happens when an STD is present.