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Older Adults

Bacterial Prostatitis

The prostate gland is part of the male reproductive system. The gland sits just below the bladder. It surrounds the urethra. This is the tube that carries urine and semen out of the body. Bacterial prostatitis is an infection of the prostate. It makes the prostate painful and swollen. The problem often occurs suddenly. It can make you very sick. But it can be treated.

Cross section of prostate gland.
With a healthy prostate, urine flows easily through the urethra.
Cross section of prostate gland showing inflammation.
With a swollen prostate, the urethra narrows. It’s harder for urine to go through.

Causes and symptoms

Bacterial prostatitis is due to infection with germs (bacteria). This infection makes the prostate swell. This squeezes the urethra, narrowing or blocking it. Symptoms may be severe. They can include:

  • Fever and chills

  • Low back pain

  • Having to urinate often

  • Pain with urination

  • A less forceful urine stream

  • Needing to strain to urinate

  • Inability to urinate


The infection is treated with antibiotics. Take all of the medicine until it's gone, even if you start to feel better. If you don’t, the infection may come back. And it may be harder to treat. Your healthcare provider may also suggest other care. This may include resting and drinking more fluid. Follow any instructions you are given.

Chronic bacterial prostatitis

Prostatitis can turn into a long-term (chronic) problem. In this case, the prostate stays swollen and inflamed despite treatment with antibiotics. One possible cause is repeated infections. Symptoms include pain and burning with urination, and needing to urinate often. It may also cause lower belly or back pain. If you have this problem, your healthcare provider will talk with you about a treatment plan. Treatment is often taking antibiotics for 6 to 12 weeks.

Online Medical Reviewer: Donna Freeborn PhD CNM FNP
Online Medical Reviewer: Marc Greenstein MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 11/1/2019
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