Prostate Problems Symptoms and Warning Signs
It’s common for men over the age of 50 to have prostate problems. The prostate gland produces semen.
Common conditions that affect the gland are enlarged prostate (BPH, benign prostatic hyperplasia), acute and chronic bacterial prostatitis, chronic non-bacterial prostatitis, and prostate cancer. Talk to your doctor if you think you may have problems urinating or pain with urination.
Prostatitis vs. BPH quick comparison of differences and similarities
- Both BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia) and prostatitis are problems with the prostate gland, a gland surrounding the neck of the bladder in males. The prostate gland is responsible for releasing prostatic fluid that helps make up part of the semen.
- The normal prostate gland is about the size of a walnut. As it increases in size, for whatever reason, it can press on the urethra and cause urinary problems.
- Both prostatitis and BPH can result in an enlarged prostate.
- Most men over 50 years old have some prostate enlargement with no symptoms, while bacterial prostatitis usually occurs in men younger than 35 years old and non-infectious prostatitis occurs in older men.
- You can have either BPH or prostatitis, and have no signs or symptoms. Nevertheless, both can cause pain (dysuria or pain with urination).
- Prostatitis is caused by infections (usually bacterial) or other related health problems, while doctors don’t know exactly what causes an enlarged prostate, but they think it may be related to hormones.
- BPH can be treated but not cured, but prostatitis is curable in many patients. The large majority of men with prostatitis have an infection of the prostate gland, while those with BPH do not have an infection.
What is prostatitis?
The definition of prostatitis is inflammation of the prostate tissue. Causes of the inflammation can be from infection or other health problems.
What is BPH (enlarged prostate)?
Most men over the age of 50 have some prostate enlargement due to the proliferation of the cells that comprise the prostate gland. Most of these men have BPH, or benign prostatic hyperplasia, even though do not have any symptoms. This gland enlargement is noncancerous and is termed benign prostatic hypertrophy or BPH. There is only one type of BPH, “benign,” meaning non-cancerous or not malignant in medical terms.
Are prostatitis and BPH the same health problem?
The answer to this question is yes and no. Yes, BPH is by definition an enlarged prostate. However, not all enlarged prostates are due to BPH. An enlarged prostate may be caused by BPH, prostatitis, and prostate cancer.
Do prostatitis and BPH cause pain?
Both BPH and prostatitis may cause pain. However, if BPH causes pain, it usually occurs with urination (dysuria).
Prostatitis may cause painful urination, painful ejaculations, and generalized groin/abdominal pain. Prostatitis pain may be more constant and may be due to the inflammation of the prostatic tissue and/or adjacent tissues. Experts point out that often the source of pain from prostatitis is unclear.
How can I tell the difference between prostatitis and BPH (signs and symptoms)?
If you do not have any symptoms of BPH or any of the types of prostatitis, which can be the situation for some men, you may not be able to tell if you have either problem. However, a doctor or other health care professional can detect enlargement of the prostate with a digital rectal exam (digital examination of the rectal area and prostate), even if you don’t have any symptoms.
If you do have symptoms, they are related to the increase in size of your prostate gland. When the gland enlarges, it can constrict the urethra and produce one or more of these symptoms.
- The need to urinate frequently during the day or night
- The sudden urgent need to urinate
- Difficulty initiating urinary stream
- Feeling like you still need to urinate even though you recently urinated
- Feeling like you need to push or strain to empty your bladder
- A decrease in the force of the urine stream
- Loss of small amounts of urine (dribbling urine)
The symptoms of prostatitis depend upon the type of prostatitis.
Acute bacterial prostatitis (type I) symptoms
- Muscle soreness
- Joint discomfort
- Feeling tired
- Prostatic discomfort and/or pain
- Painful urination (dysuria)
- Low back pain and/or abdominal pain
- Possible urethral discharge
- Urinary stream problems such as frequency, urgency, weak urine stream
Chronic bacterial prostatitis (type II)
- Intermittent painful urination
- Intermittent obstructive urinary tract symptoms
- Recurrent urinary tract infections (with some symptoms for type I)
Chronic prostatitis and chronic pelvic pain syndrome (type III)
- Pelvic pain and/or discomfort
- Obstructive urinary tract symptoms such as frequency, painful urination, and incomplete urination
- Pain with ejaculation
- Erectile dysfunction (ED)
Asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis (type IV)
- By definition, type IV has no symptoms, but sometimes is diagnosed from a prostate biopsy or suspected when a prostate-specific antigen test (PSA blood test) is elevated.
Some men may have some of these symptoms with both BPH or prostatitis. If you are over age 50, it is more likely BPH than prostatitis, and if you are under age 35, acute bacterial prostatitis is more likely than BPH. In some patients, prostatitis may be recurrent (you may get the condition again).
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/31/2017