MSD Manual

Please confirm that you are not located inside the Russian Federation

honeypot link



The Manual's Editorial Staff

Reviewed/Revised May 2023
Get the full details
Topic Resources

What is the prostate?

The prostate is a gland located between a man’s bladder and penis. The tube (urethra) that carries urine from the bladder and out the penis runs right through the middle of the prostate.

The Prostate

The prostate makes fluid that helps keep sperm healthy. Nearly all the fluid that a man ejaculates during sex is made by the prostate.

The prostate is the size of a walnut in young men, but gets bigger as you get older.

What is prostatitis?

Prostatitis is pain and swelling in your prostate.

What causes prostatitis?

Sometimes, prostatitis is caused by an infection. Usually the infection spreads to your prostate from parts of your urinary system (such as your bladder or kidneys). Other times, prostatitis is not due to an infection, but the exact cause is not clear.

What are the symptoms of prostatitis?

The symptoms of prostatitis are:

  • Pain in your lower back, penis, testicles, or the area between the scrotum and anus (the perineal area)

  • Needing to urinate (pee) more often and a stronger urge to urinate

  • Pain or a burning feeling when you urinate

  • Trouble passing stool (poop)

  • Pain during or difficulty having an erection or orgasm

Male Reproductive Organs

Male Reproductive Organs

If bacteria are the cause of prostatitis, symptoms are usually worse:

  • Fever, chills, trouble urinating, and blood in your urine

  • Pus in the prostate or your sex organs

How can doctors tell if I have prostatitis?

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms, have you give a urine sample, and do a rectal exam. During the rectal exam:

  • A doctor inserts a gloved finger into your rectum (the end of your digestive tract where stool [poop] is stored)

  • Your doctor is able to feel your prostate during the exam

  • If you have prostatitis, your prostate will be very tender when the doctor touches it

After the rectal exam, you will give another urine sample. The doctor will see if the urine has more pus cells after your prostate was pushed on (prostate massage).

How do doctors treat prostatitis?

Doctors treat prostatitis differently if it is caused by bacteria or not.

If bacteria are the cause

  • Your doctor will give you antibiotics that you'll take for at least 30 days

  • If you're very sick, you'll need to stay in the hospital to get antibiotics through a vein

If the infection keeps coming back after treatment:

  • Your doctor may give you antibiotics that you'll take for 6 weeks

  • You may have surgery to take out any pus in your prostate

If bacteria are not the cause

Prostatitis is usually hard to cure, but you can treat the symptoms with:

  • Prostate massage, which a doctor will do by placing a finger in your rectum

  • Sitting in a warm bath

  • Mind-body exercises to help your muscles relax (biofeedback)

  • Medicine that makes passing stool easier, lessens the pain and swelling, or relaxes your prostate muscles

If the symptoms are very bad and other treatments don’t work, you may need surgery to remove part of your prostate.

quiz link

Test your knowledge

Take a Quiz!