About the prostate

The prostate is a small gland that lies between the penis and the bladder and surrounds the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the penis).

The prostate is involved in the production of semen. It produces a thick, white fluid that's made into a liquid by a protein called prostate-specific antigen. The liquid is then mixed with sperm, produced by the testicles, to create semen.

Prostatitis is a general term that refers to inflammation (swelling) of the prostate gland, which is sometimes caused by an infection. It can be very painful and you'll need to see your GP.

The prostate is a small gland found only in men, which lies between the penis and the bladder (see the box on this page for more information about the prostate gland).

Symptoms of prostatitis include:

  • pain when urinating
  • pain when ejaculating semen 
  • problems urinating
  • discomfort in the pelvis, genitals, lower back and buttocks

These symptoms usually come and go over a period of months, but can sometimes start suddenly and be a medical emergency (see below).

Prostatitis can develop in men of all ages, unlike other types of prostate disease (such as prostate cancer or prostate enlargement), which usually affect older men.

Acute vs chronic prostatitis

There are two main types of prostatitis:

  • Chronic prostatitis – the most common type. Symptoms will have lasted for at least three months, although they may come and go and vary in severity. The cause isn't always clear.
  • Acute prostatitis – symptoms are severe and develop rapidly. This is caused by a bacterial infection of the prostate gland. It's a medical emergency, as without prompt treatment with antibiotics, the prostate and surrounding areas can become damaged. An estimated one in every 10,000 men will develop acute prostatitis.

Read more information about the causes of prostatitis.


Chronic prostatitis can be challenging to treat, as little is known about the cause of the condition. In most cases, there isn't any bacterial infection.

Prostatitis caused by a bacterial infection will usually be successfully treated with antibiotics. Most men will make a full recovery within two weeks. Some men may find that symptoms return in the future, which will require further treatment.

Read more information about how prostatitis is treated.

Page last reviewed: 28/03/2013

Next review due: 28/03/2015


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The 7 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

User902329 said on 11 September 2014

31 years ago -on holiday sudden severe back urethral and testicular pain--worked out in 10 minutes must be prostate
Trans urethral investigations caused severe exacerbation of pain for days
12 months Septrim no effect
Pain so severe destroyed my ability to work properly in
my new (ideal) job
Microwave made pain worse
Suicide seemed the only sensible option in absence of
professional help-but not permissible because of impact it would have on my young son.
Further trans-urethral investigations exacerbated pain for days (no warning about this on multi-page consent form)
Gave up on urologists (who in any case "lost" me from follow up) saw a general physician-who at least understood pain--tricyclic,tramadol and TENS gave 30% improvement.
Travel still very painful despite use of doughnut pillow
Awoken by pain at night--Ejaculation not painful immediately but pain much worse 24 hours later.
Can find no evidence of standard setting or audit.
I expect to have pain until I die. May be offered cardiac surgery dread the thought of urethral catheterisation which will certainly increase pain.
Have had major cerebral haemorrhage (in hospital 4 months) and residual hemiparesis Prostatitis is much more difficult to live with than the stroke.

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andrewedmondson said on 29 July 2014

I had prostatitis 20 years ago. I saw a consultant (private because I couldn't wait for a NHS referral due to the urgency to urinate). I was successfully treated with a double regimen of antibiotics, i.e. 4 weeks. The consultant explained that 4 weeks are needed because the prostate gland is difficult to penetrate.

1 year ago I self-admitted to A&E at the weekend with enlarged prostate that I could feel when having a bowel motion plus the usual urgency to urinate. I was given 7 days of antibiotics which the GP followed with a further 3 days.

Last week I had a bladder infection with prostatitis symptoms. I was given 7 days of antibiotics by a nurse. I visited the doctor to get more antibiotics, explaining my history. I was given a further 7 days.

NHS guidelines are for 4 weeks of antibiotics. So why have the last 2 doctors given me 10 days and 14 days? Where is the logic?

Perhaps they want a consultant to diagnose prostatitis again before giving 4 weeks of antibiotic. But that means paying privately because it takes at least 2 weeks to see one, by which time the antibiotic course will have ended.

Unless I am mistaken in some way, it seems foolish to allow the bacteria to survive in my prostate ready for a third bladder infection in another year. What is the big deal about 4 weeks vs 2 weeks of antibiotics?

I will see the consultant in 8 weeks. I am not sure if they will be able to diagnose prostatitis now that the acute infection is gone. And what would their treatment be? Well, another 4 weeks of antibiotics!

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Gstar72 said on 29 June 2014

I am a male, in his early 40's, I was diagnosed with prostatitis whilst working in Canada, back in the UK at the moment.

I wanted to share my experiences, but always consult a professional first. I'm not offering advice, just sharing my experience...Hope this helps...if you are not happy with the advice you are given, seek another specialist...

After being diagnosed with Chronic Prostatitis, I saw my GP who prescribed anti-biotics - this did nothing - the symptoms returned - here is the first heads up - don't just jump on the antibiotics band-wagon, see a specialist as you might not have a bacterial infection - also read about the side effects of any medication you are prescribed, I have tinnitus now, not saying its related, but wish I had known all the facts before.

Following months of pain, unable to sit; burning during urination; feelings of not being empty post void urination; and a career in shreds as a result, I waited 3 months to see a urologist who was useless - he told me to live with the pain.

Out of desperation, I did a search online and found a private specialist in Toronto, I was dubious with my past experiences, but he treated my underlying problems and explained what and why; as well as helped me to better understand my symptoms and manage my condition, now I lead a pretty normal life.

The specialist should conduct extensive tests to determine what they think may have caused the underlying issue, and then treat you accordingly; taking antibiotics may not be the right path depending on your symptoms, and may actually effect your test results rather than being tested before taking anti-biotics - medication free.....

Diet and lifestyle played a hugh part in staying pain free...

Hope this helps....

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davidrt said on 27 September 2013

I have a bladder that doesn't work souse intermittent catheterisation to empty it. I get prostatitis from time to time, most likely caused by using a catheter or as a 'sub-infection' of a bladder infection. The symptoms are as for acute prostatitis and strong antibiotics usually clear it up. But its very painful and very uncomfortable. Debilitating for two or three days even when on antibiotics.

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Joeycraig said on 21 February 2013

Anyone know of an nhs hospital that will remove the prostate for prostatitis ?

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User662320 said on 07 April 2012

Prostatitis is an inflammatory condition of the prostate and a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods would be beneficial.
Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and fish. Avoid inflammatory foods like animal fats,coffee and alcohol.
Take also supplements like saw palmetto and zinc.

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JeremyJinks said on 10 January 2011

The page does not make clear to me the difference between acute prostatitis and chronic bacterial prostatis: when does the one become the other? or does it? I think some further description would be appropriate to differentiate the 2 conditions.

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