Prostatitis: Myths & Misconceptions
Prostatitis is the most common urinary tract problem in men younger than age 50, leading to about 2 million visits to a doctor’s office each year, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Prostatitis is a condition in which the prostate gland gets inflamed and swollen, which can cause a variety of symptoms, both sexual and otherwise. The prostate—it’s a walnut-sized gland located below the bladder and above the rectum—is responsible for producing the seminal fluid that nourishes and transports sperm.
Take a look at some of the common myths and misconceptions associated with prostatitis and discover the truth behind them. Let’s get to debunking.
Myth: Abstaining from sexual activity causes prostatitis.
Reality: Since the prostate is responsible for producing and storing seminal fluid, some people mistakenly think that going too long without ejaculating could lead to prostatitis, which causes inflammation and swelling of the prostate. However, this is untrue. The body naturally adjusts to sexual abstinence, and that process does not include prostatitis.
Myth: Prostatitis is a sexually transmitted disease.
Reality: Prostatitis is not a sexually transmitted disease (STD), though some STDs—chlamydia and gonorrhea foremost among them—can cause prostatitis. In fact, any bacteria that can cause a urinary tract infection (UTI) can lead to prostatitis. And in some cases, there’s no infection involved at all: Injury to the area between the scrotum and anus can lead to prostatitis, as can other unrelated issues involving the urethra and prostate. In some men, prostatitis can become a chronic, nonbacterial condition that is also known as chronic pelvic pain syndrome.
Myth: Only older men are affected by prostatitis.
Reality: Prostatitis can affect men of any age. Prostatitis is the most common urinary tract problem for men younger than 50 years old and the third most common urinary tract problem for men older than age 50, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
Myth: My partner has nothing to worry about.
Reality: It’s important to remember that while prostatitis has a variety of causes, it does sometimes stem from sexually transmitted diseases. If you’ve had unprotected sex and you have prostatitis, it is a good idea for both you and your partner to get tested, so you can determine whether the condition was caused by an STD. If the results come back positive, then both of you should talk to a medical professional about treatment options.
Myth: Prostatitis is cancerous.
Reality: Prostatitis is not the same as prostate cancer. The Prostate Cancer Foundation reports that while the inflammation caused by prostatitis may lead to a rise in prostate-specific antigen levels, that does not mean the condition will necessarily become cancer. Ultimately, prostatitis is a benign condition that can be effectively treated with antibiotics in most cases. Though bacterial prostatitis can be treated with such medications, it’s worth noting that chronic nonbacterial prostatitis may be more difficult to treat, because its causes are often unclear.
Medical experts are still researching whether prolonged inflammation of the prostate may increase a man’s risk of developing prostate cancer at some point, according to the Prostate Cancer Foundation.
The National Center for Health Statistics estimates that 25 percent of men who seek help for a urological problem have some symptoms of prostatitis. If you think you may be experiencing this condition, don’t hesitate to consult your doctor.