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Prostatitis - nonbacterial

Definition

Chronic nonbacterial prostatitis causes long-term pain and urinary symptoms. It involves the prostate gland or other parts of a man's lower urinary tract or genital area. This condition is not caused by an infection with bacteria.

Alternative Names

NBP; Prostatodynia; Pelvic pain syndrome; CPPS; Chronic nonbacterial prostatitis; Chronic genitourinary pain

Causes

Possible causes of nonbacterial prostatitis include:

  • A past bacterial prostatitis infection
  • Bicycle riding
  • Less common types of bacteria
  • Irritation caused by a backup of urine flowing into the prostate
  • Irritation from chemicals
  • Nerve problem involving the lower urinary tract
  • Parasites
  • Pelvic floor muscle problem
  • Sexual abuse
  • Viruses

Life stresses and emotional factors may play a part in the problem.

Most men with chronic prostatitis have the nonbacterial form.

Symptoms

  • Blood in the semen
  • Blood in the urine
  • Pain in the genital area and lower back
  • Pain with bowel movements
  • Pain with ejaculation
  • Problems with urinating

Exams and Tests

Most of the time a physical exam is normal. However, the prostate may be swollen or tender.

Urine tests may show white or red blood cells in the urine. A semen culture may show a higher number of white blood cells and low sperm count with poor movement.

Urine culture or culture from the prostate does not show bacteria.

Treatment

Treatment for nonbacterial prostatitis is difficult. The problem is hard to cure, so the goal is to control symptoms.

Several types of medicines may be used to treat the condition. These include:

  • Long-term antibiotics to make sure that the prostatitis is not caused by bacteria. However, people who have had symptoms for a long time that are not helped by antibiotics should stop taking these medicines.
  • Drugs called alpha-adrenergic blockers help relax the muscles of the prostate gland. It often takes about 6 weeks before these medicines start working. Many people do not get relief from these medicines.
  • Aspirin, ibuprofen, and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which may relieve symptoms for some men.

Some people have found some relief from pollen extract (Cernitin) and allopurinol, although research does not confirm their benefit. Stool softeners may help reduce discomfort with bowel movements.

Surgery, called transurethral resection of the prostate may be done in rare cases if medicine does not help. This surgery is not usually done on younger men because it may cause retrograde ejaculation. This can lead to sterility, impotence, and incontinence.

Other treatments that may be tried include:

  • Warm baths to ease some of the pain.
  • Prostate massage, acupuncture, and relaxation exercises. However, none of these therapies have been proven to be effective.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Many people respond to treatment. However, others do not get relief, even after trying many things. Symptoms often come back and may not be treatable.

Possible Complications

Untreated symptoms of nonbacterial prostatitis may lead to sexual and urinary problems. These problems can affect your lifestyle and emotional well-being.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of prostatitis.

References

Nickel JC. In: Wein AJ, ed. Prostatitis and related conditions, orchitis, and epididymitis. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 11.

Barry MJ, McNaughton-Collins M. Benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostatitis. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 131.


Review Date: 10/2/2013
Reviewed By: Scott Miller, MD, Urologist in private practice in Atlanta, Georgia. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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