The National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC) defines prostatitis as a frequently painful condition that affects the prostate gland in mostly young and middle-aged men.
The prostate is a walnut-sized gland located directly beneath the bladder that produces semen which nourishes and transports sperm.
There are four types of prostatitis. Acute bacterial prostatitis, NKUDIC said, is the least common and potentially life-threatening. It’s usually caused by a sudden bacterial infection.
Chronic bacterial prostatitis, said NKUDIC, is also relatively uncommon and occurs when bacteria find a spot on the prostate where they can survive. The American Urological Association Foundation (AUA) says it’s characterized by recurrent urinary tract infections.
The third type, chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome, is the most common but least understood. NKUDIC said it may be inflammatory or non-inflammatory.
The fourth according to Mayo Clinic is asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis. It doesn't cause noticeable symptoms and is typically found when looking for other conditions. NKUDIC stated it has infection-fighting cells in prostate fluid and semen.
AUA explains the causes of prostatitis aren’t fully known but there are accepted theories. For acute and chronic bacterial prostatitis, infections enter the prostate from the urethra by backward flow of infected urine into the prostate ducts.
Chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome may be caused by atypical organisms such as chlamydia, or mycoplasma said AUA.
Mayo Clinic said other causes of prostatitis include immune or nervous system disorders and injury to the prostate or prostate area.
Risk factors for prostatitis, says Mayo Clinic, are previous history of prostatitis, bladder or urethra infection, pelvic trauma, dehydration, urinary catheter use, unprotected sex, HIV/AIDS, psychological stress and certain inherited traits.
Merck Manuals says prostatitis symptoms include pain in the perineum, the lower back, the penis and testes.