What is the prostate?
The prostate is a gland in the male reproductive system. It lies just below the bladder. It makes fluid that is part of semen.
What are prostate diseases?
There are many types of prostate diseases:
- Prostatitis is inflammation (swelling and pain) in the prostate gland. It's the most common type of prostate problem in people under than age 50. There are different types:
- Chronic prostatitis is also called chronic pelvic pain syndrome. It's the most common type of prostatitis.
- Acute bacterial prostatitis starts suddenly from a bacterial infection and is treated with antibiotics. It is not common.
- Chronic bacterial prostatitis happens when a bacterial infection keeps coming back. The symptoms usually start slowly. It may take longer to treat than acute bacterial prostatitis.
- Asymptomatic prostatitis has no symptoms and usually doesn't need treatment. You may learn you have it after having tests for other health problems.
- Enlarged prostate is also called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). The prostate gland tends to grow larger with age. That's why enlarged prostate is very common in older people and rare in those who are under age 40. When the prostate grows larger, it may press on your urethra and cause problems with urination.
- Prostate cancer happens when cancer cells form in the prostate gland. Prostate cancer is a common type of cancer in those aged 50 and older. Most prostate cancers grow slowly and may never cause health problems. But certain prostate cancers are serious.
Who is more likely to develop prostate diseases?
Anyone with a prostate can develop prostate problems. But some people are at higher risk.
You may be more likely to develop prostatitis if you have:
- A lower urinary tract infection, also called a UTI. An infection in your lower urinary tract (bladder and urethra) may lead to acute or chronic bacterial prostatitis.
- Nerve damage in your lower urinary tract from surgery or an injury. This may lead to chronic prostatitis.
- Emotional stress, which can lead to chronic prostatitis.
You may be more likely to develop an enlarged prostate (BPH) if you:
- Are age 40 or older.
- Have family members who have had BPH.
- Have certain health conditions such as:
- Don't get enough physical activity.
You may be more likely to develop prostate cancer if you:
- Are older than age 50.
- Have a parent, sibling, or child who has or had prostate cancer.
- Are African American.
What are the symptoms of prostate diseases?
The symptoms of prostate problems include:
- Needing to urinate a lot.
- Needing to rush to the bathroom, but not being able to urinate or only going a little.
- Leaking or dribbling urine.
- Having a weak urine stream.
Other symptoms depend on the type of prostate problem you have and may include:
- Not being able to urinate at all. This is a medical emergency.
- Any problems, starting or controlling urine flow.
- Waking up often to urinate.
- Blood in your urine or urine that has an unusual smell or color.
- Fever, chills, or body aches.
- Great discomfort or pain:
- While urinating or after ejaculation.
- In your abdomen (belly), between your scrotum and anus, or in your scrotum or penis.
Contact your provider if you have any of these symptoms.
How are prostate diseases diagnosed?
To find out if you have a prostate problem, your provider will:
- Ask about your medical history and symptoms.
- Ask about your family health history.
- Do a physical exam. The exam may include a digital rectal exam (DRE) of your prostate. In a DRE, your provider inserts a gloved finger into your rectum to feel the general size and condition of your prostate.
- Order tests, if needed. Tests may include:
- Blood and urine tests to look for infection.
- Urodynamic testing to see how well you can hold and release urine.
- Cystoscopy to look inside your urethra and bladder.
- Ultrasound pictures of your prostate and urinary tract.
- A PSA blood test (prostate-specific antigen test).
- Prostate biopsy to diagnose or rule out cancer.
Treatment depends on what prostate disease you have and which symptoms bother you most.
NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Diagnosis and Tests
- Blood in Urine (National Library of Medicine) Also in Spanish
- Digital Rectal Exam (DRE) (American Society of Clinical Oncology) Also in Spanish
- Prostate MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) (American College of Radiology; Radiological Society of North America) Also in Spanish
- Prostate Tests (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases)
- Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Test (National Cancer Institute) Also in Spanish
- Ultrasound - Prostate (American College of Radiology; Radiological Society of North America) Also in Spanish
- Urinary Retention (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases) Also in Spanish
- Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
- Prostatitis: Inflammation of the Prostate (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases)
- Recurrent Prostate Infection: What Are the Treatment Options? (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
- ClinicalTrials.gov: Prostatic Diseases (National Institutes of Health)
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: Discovery proteomics defines androgen-regulated glycoprotein networks in prostate cancer cells, as...
- Article: Localization of external urethral orifice in coronary sulcus during urethroplasty in...
- Article: A Clinical Trial Evaluating the Usefulness of Tailored Antimicrobial Prophylaxis Using...
- Prostate Diseases -- see more articles
Find an Expert
- Prostate Diseases (AGS Foundation for Health in Aging)
- Digital rectal exam (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish
- Prostatitis - acute (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish
- Prostatitis - nonbacterial (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish
- Prostatitis-bacterial - self-care (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish
- Urinary Retention (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases)