Prostatitis is any form of inflammation of the prostate gland. Because women do not have a prostate gland, it is a condition only found in men, although women do have microscopic paraurethral Skene’s glands connected to the distal third of the urethra in the prevaginal space that are homologous to the prostate, and may cause symptoms.
A prostatitis diagnosis is assigned at 8% of all urologist and 1% of all primary care physician visits in the USA.
Men with this disease often have chills, fever, pain in the lower back and genital area, urinary frequency and urgency often at night, burning or painful urination, body aches, and a demonstrable infection of the urinary tract, as evidenced by white blood cells and bacteria in the urine. There may be discharge from the penis.
Acute prostatitis is relatively easy to diagnose due to its symptoms that suggest infection. Common bacteria are E. Coli, Klebsiella, Proteus, Pseudomonas, Enterobacter, Enterococcus, Serratia, and Staphylococcus aureus. This can be a medical emergency in some patients and hospitalization with intravenous antibiotics may be required. A full blood count reveals increased white blood cells. Sepsis from prostatitis is very rare, but may occur in immunocompromised patients; high fever and malaise generally prompt blood cultures, which are often positive in sepsis.
Antibiotics are the first line of treatment in acute prostatitis. Antibiotics usually resolve acute prostatitis infections in a very short period of time. Appropriate antibiotics should be used, based on the microbe causing the infection. Some antibiotics have very poor penetration of the prostatic capsule, others, such as Ciprofloxacin, Co-trimoxazole and tetracyclines penetrate well. Severely ill patients may need hospitalization, while nontoxic patients can be treated at home with bed rest, analgesics, stool softeners, and hydration.
For chronic nonbacterial prostatitis, also known as pelvic myoneuropathy or CP/CPPS, which makes up the majority of men diagnosed with “prostatitis”, a treatment called the Stanford Protocol, developed by Stanford University Professor of Urology Rodney Anderson and psychologist David Wise in 1996, has recently been published. This is a combination of medication (using tricyclic antidepressants and benzodiazepines), psychological therapy (paradoxical relaxation, an advancement and adaptation, specifically for pelvic pain, of a type of progressive relaxation technique developed by Edmund Jacobson during the early 20th century), and physical therapy (trigger point release therapy on pelvic floor and abdominal muscles, and also yoga-type exercises with the aim of relaxing pelvic floor and abdominal muscles). While these studies are encouraging, definitive proof of efficacy would require a randomized, sham controlled, blinded study, which is not as easy to do with physical therapy as with drug therapy.
Prostatitis may have no initial trigger other than anxiety, often with an element of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or other anxiety-spectrum problem. This is theorized to leave the pelvic area in a sensitized condition resulting in a loop of muscle tension and heightened neurological feedback (neural wind-up). Current protocols largely focus on stretches to release overtensed muscles in the pelvic or anal area (commonly referred to as trigger points), physical therapy to the area, and progressive relaxation therapy to reduce causative stress. Biofeedback physical therapy to relearn how to control pelvic floor muscles may be useful.