Prostatitis is an infection of the prostate gland, which sits behind the base of the penis, by bacteria that may enter the prostate by moving up the urethra (urine tube) from the outside, from a sexually transmitted infection (eg. gonorrhoea), or uncommonly from an infection spreading from other parts of the body.
Pain occurs behind the base of the penis, and there is a discharge from the penis, pain on passing urine, fever and patients pass urine frequently. The infection may spread to the man’s sexual partner, in whom it can cause pelvic inflammatory disease.
The diagnosis confirmed by taking a swab from the urethra, and identifying the bacteria present, and treatment requires taking a long course of antibiotics.
Acute case usually settles with treatment, but recurrences are common and a low-grade persistent infection may develop, which is difficult to treat.
In younger men, the most common cause of disease is infection, when the gland may swell up and become very tender. In older men the disease process is quite different. Up to 20% of all men over 60 may have an enlargement of the prostate which causes symptoms, and a small percentage of these may have cancer of the prostate.