If you’re like many adult men, you’ve thought about your prostate health at some point in your life. It’s an important issue because 90 percent of men experience some kind of problem with their prostate by the time they are 70 years old. And one of these problems is prostatitis.
Prostatitis is a common condition that involves inflammation or an infection of the prostate gland. It’s estimated that prostatitis symptoms affect 35 to 50 percent of men during their lifetime. And unlike an enlarged prostate and prostate cancer, which commonly affect older men, prostatitis affects men of all ages, especially those between the ages of 20 and 40. (1)
The severity of symptoms vary, but most men with prostatitis suffer from painful urination; pain in the pelvic area, groin and lower back; flu-like symptoms; and issues during intercourse, such as painful ejaculation and erectile dysfunction. Thankfully, there are natural and safe ways to relieve prostatitis symptoms that will help you to feel like yourself again.
What Is Prostatitis?
The term prostatitis describes a combination of infectious diseases that involve the prostate gland. There are four categories of prostatitis:
Acute bacterial prostatitis: Acute bacterial prostatitis is estimated to comprise up to 10 percent of all prostatitis diagnoses, making it the least common form of the condition. It most commonly affects men between the ages of 20 and 40 and those older than 70 years. (2)
Chronic bacterial prostatitis: Chronic bacterial prostatitis involves recurring infections in the prostate and urinary symptoms that come and go for many months. When a bacterial infection in the prostate isn’t completely eliminated, prostatitis symptoms can recur and become difficult to treat.
Chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome: Chronic prostatitis is the most common and least understood form of prostatitis, making up 90 percent of cases. It is estimated to affect 10 to 15 percent of men in the United States and it can occur at any age. Chronic prostatitis is when there’s pelvic pain and other symptoms of prostatitis, but bacteria doesn’t cause it. (3)
Asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis: Asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis involves inflammation of the prostate gland. The only symptom of this type of prostatitis is the presence of white blood cells in the prostate fluid; in fact, this type is usually diagnosed incidentally only after the evaluation of infertility or prostate cancer. (4)
Signs & Symptoms
Prostatitis symptoms depend on the type and cause of the condition. Symptoms can vary from person to person.
The symptoms of acute and chronic bacterial prostatitis are similar, but the chronic form is usually not as severe. Symptoms of acute bacterial prostatitis tend to come on suddenly, while chronic bacterial prostatitis typically develops slowly and lasts for three or more months. The symptoms of both forms generally include (5):
- fever and chills (more common with acute bacterial prostatitis)
- nausea and vomiting
- frequent urination
- an urgent need to urinate
- difficulty urinating
- less powerful urine stream
- pain or burning during urination
- pain in the genital and groin area
- lower abdomen and lower back pain
- pain during ejaculation or sexual intercourse
Symptoms associated with chronic bacterial prostatitis may be persistent and mild, or they may come and go. Two potential complications of prostatitis caused by a bacterial infection are urosepsis and septicemia. Urosepsis is a severe infection of the urinary tract or the prostate that can lead to multi-organ dysfunction. Septicemia is blood poisoning by bacteria that can progress to septic shock. (6)
Chronic pelvic pain involves discomfort that lasts for three months or longer. With chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain, the pain may come on suddenly or develop gradually. It may also come and go for several months. Common symptoms of this type of prostatitis include:
- pain between the scrotum and anus
- pain or discomfort in the penis and scrotum
- lower back and lower abdomen pain
- pain during or after ejaculation
- pain during sexual intercourse
- pain in the urethra and/or penis during or after urination
- frequent need to urinate, up to 8–10 times a day
- urgent need to urinate and an inability to delay urination
- interrupted or weak urine stream due to prostate swelling
Men with asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis don’t have symptoms and this type does not cause complications. It’s usually detected when the patient is tested for a urinary tract infection or reproductive tract disorder.
Causes & Risk Factors
Bacterial prostatitis is caused by a bacterial infection that usually occurs when bacteria travel from the urethra into the prostate. In most cases, bacteria in your urine leak into your prostate and cause an infection. With chronic bacterial prostatitis, bacteria chronically infects the prostate gland, leading to repeated urinary tract infections.
The cause of chronic pelvic pain varies. It can come from an initial infection of the prostate, an injury, surgery involving the prostate or lower urinary tract, and spasms of the pelvic floor muscles.
A 2016 study published in Prostate Cancer and Prostatic Diseases indicates potential risk factors for chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain. The most common risk factors include stress, smoking, alcohol consumption, minimal water intake, imbalanced diet, frequent sexual activity, delaying ejaculation, holding urine and nightshift work. Living a sedentary life, drinking caffeinated drinks and not drinking enough water were found to be associated with severe pain in patients with prostatitis. (7)
Some other risk factors associated with prostatitis include having an infection in the bladder that spreads to the prostate; having pelvic trauma; having a prostate biopsy; or having a catheter inserted into the urethra to drain your bladder.
Treatment for acute and chronic bacterial prostatitis typically includes antibiotics and pain relievers. For acute bacterial prostatitis, taking antibiotic medicine for one to two weeks is the most common form of treatment. For some patients with acute bacterial prostatitis, high doses of intravenous antibiotics are necessary because the symptoms come on suddenly and they can be severe. But patients who are not vomiting and aren’t seriously ill are usually given oral antibiotics, like fluoroquinolone. Research conducted at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago indicates that fluoroquinolone provides relief in 50 percent of men and is more effective when prescribed soon after symptoms begin. (8)
Most patients with chronic bacterial prostatitis are given low-dose antibiotics for a longer period of time, usually four to six weeks, but treatment can be longer if there aren’t results. (9)
Alpha-blocking agents like tamsulosin and alfusozin are sometimes used to reduce abnormal urinary symptoms in men with prostatitis. These medications are used to help men who experience pain and discomfort when urinating; do not empty their bladders completely; or have trouble urinating. Research shows that alpha blockers are modestly beneficial in some patients with prostatitis; however, there are several side effects to be aware of when taking alpha blockers, including dizziness, headache, vertigo, chest pain, headache, blurred vision and sleepiness. (10)
Drugs that relax the muscles of the prostate and bladder are also used to improve or reduce symptoms. Medications that are commonly prescribed include finasteride, doxazosin and terazosin. (11)
8 Natural Ways to Relieve Prostatitis Symptoms
1. Take Quercetin
Quercetin is a type of flavonoid antioxidant that helps to reduce inflammation and pain associated with nonbacterial prostatitis. Research suggests that quercetin can be helpful for men with bladder or prostate symptoms and pelvic floor pain or spasms. (12)
In one study, 500 milligrams of quercetin was administered twice a day for four weeks. Patients with chronic prostatitis showed significant improvement and reduced inflammation over the placebo group. (13)
2. Try Bee Pollen
Studies show that bee pollen may be effective in prostatic conditions because of its anti-inflammatory, analgesic and anti-androgen effects. In fact, the efficacy of bee pollen has been compared to anti-inflammatory drugs like naproxen and indomethacin. According to research published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, “clinicians confirm that, in nonbacterial prostate inflammations, pollen improves the condition of patients by effectively removing the pain.” (14)
The most common way to use bee pollen is to mix ground pollen with foods, like cottage cheese, yogurt, juices or smoothies. To reduce inflammation and boost your prostate health, I suggest taking 1 teaspoon of ground pollen three times a day.
3. Take Saw Palmetto
One of the most well-known saw palmetto benefits is its ability to improve prostate health and urinary dysfunction in a natural way. According to the research, saw palmetto can actually bind to receptors in the lower urinary tract, thereby improving urinary symptoms of prostatitis like overactive bladder and BPH symptoms. (15) Researchers indicate that it has no known drug interactions and doesn’t cause any adverse side effects. (16)
You can find saw palmetto capsules in most health food stores. Make sure the product label indicates that the contents are standardized and contain 85 to 95 percent fatty acids and sterols.
4. Avoid Inflammatory Foods
To relieve prostatitis symptoms, avoid trigger and inflammatory foods like refined carbohydrates, gluten, sugar and artificial sweeteners, spicy foods, acidic foods, alcohol and too much caffeine. These foods, and other trigger foods that cause allergic reactions, lead to inflammation in the body and can contribute to pain in the pelvic and lower abdominal areas. (17)
Sometimes it’s not the typical inflammatory foods that are leading to prostatitis symptoms, but food allergies or intolerances that cause inflammation and pain. An elimination diet involves removing common allergens from your diet, including gluten, dairy, soy, refined sugars, peanuts, corn, alcohol, eggs and packaged or processed foods. After about six weeks of avoiding these foods, your symptoms may begin to dissipate. If that’s the case, then you know that one of these foods is the culprit. One by one, begin adding these foods back into your diet and pay close attention to how your body reacts — this will help you to pinpoint what specific food is causing the problem.
5. Eat Healing Foods
Eating a balanced diet is one of the cornerstones of prostatitis treatment. This means consuming whole and natural foods that help to reduce inflammation, heal your gut and boost your immune system. Consume the following foods regularly:
- vegetables, especially leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables
- fruits, especially berries
- high-fiber foods, like beans, legumes, squash, berries, pears, nuts and seeds
- organic, good-quality protein, like grass-fed beef and wild-caught salmon
- omega-3 foods, including wild-caught fish, walnuts, flaxseeds and chia seeds
- healthy fats, like avocados, coconut oil, olive oil and grass-fed butter
- foods high in zinc, like pumpkin seeds, organic lamb, yogurt, kefir, mushrooms and cashews
- probiotic foods, such as coconut kefir, cultured vegetables and kombucha
It’s also important to work on reducing stress and getting enough sleep every night — at least seven hours, as these are risk factors for prostatitis.
6. Try Biofeedback Therapy
Biofeedback therapy is a type of training that teaches patients to control involuntary physiological processes, helping you to relax your muscles and reduce pain. A 2003 study published in the Asian Journal of Andrology found that 60 patients with nonbacterial prostatitis significantly improved their symptoms with biofeedback therapy. Some of the symptoms that were improved include pain or discomfort in the genital, groin and rectal areas. Researchers concluded that biofeedback therapy is a safe and effective therapy for chronic pelvic pain. (18)
7. Practice Pelvic Floor Training
Research conducted at the Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey indicates that pelvic floor muscle training can help to improve a variety of clinical circumstances impacting men, including pelvic pain, urinary incontinence, overactive bladder, dribbling after urinating, erectile dysfunction and ejaculation issues. (19)
Men with chronic pelvic pain syndrome can practice kegel exercises to relieve their symptoms. First, identify your pelvic floor muscles by stopping urination in midstream — the muscles used to do that are your pelvic floor muscles. To do a kegel, tighten the pelvic floor muscles and hold the contraction for five seconds, then relax for five seconds. Keep repeating this method and as you increase your pelvic floor strength, hold the muscle contractions for longer. To make an impact, you’ll have to do kegels everyday, so make it a daily practice, doing about three sets of kegels, at 10 reps per set.
8. Use Essential Oils
The three essential oils that I recommend you use to relieve symptoms are frankincense, myrrh and oregano. Frankincense helps to reduce pain and inflammation, two major issues associated with both bacterial and non-bacterial prostatitis. Myrrh oil has antibacterial properties and it can be used to relax your muscles, helping to ease pain. Both frankincense and myrrh oils can be applied topically to the area right below the genitals twice daily. (20)
Oregano essential oil has antibacterial, anti-fungal and antiviral properties. Studies show that oregano oil benefits are superior to those of prescription antibiotics because it can effectively kill bacteria without the harmful side effects (like destroying food bacteria in the gut) and risk of antibiotic resistance. (21)
To use oregano oil to treat bacterial prostatitis, combine 3–4 drops with ½ teaspoon coconut oil and take it internally twice daily for a maximum of two weeks.
A proper treatment plan depends on the cause of the condition. Most times, using several forms of therapy at once is most effective. If you plan on using these natural remedies to relieve your symptoms, do it under the guidance of your health care provider. This is especially important if you plan to use oregano oil instead of antibiotic medications for bacterial prostatitis, as the symptoms come on quickly and can be extremely severe when the condition isn’t treated immediately. If you do use antibiotic drugs for treatment, follow it up with a probiotic supplement and probiotic foods in order to replenish the healthy bacteria in your gut.
- The term prostatitis describes a combination of infectious diseases that involve the prostate gland. In a nutshell, it’s a common condition that involves an infection or inflammation of the prostate.
- The four types are acute bacterial prostatitis, chronic bacterial prostatitis, chronic pelvic pain syndrome and asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis.
- The most common symptoms are pain during urination; trouble urinating; frequent urination; pelvic pain, lower back pain, and pain in the genital or groin areas.
- Prostatitis is caused by bacteria that usually travel from the urine, through the urethra and into the prostate; trauma to the prostate or lower urinary tract; or spasms of the pelvic floor muscles.
- The best natural ways to relieve symptoms include quercetin, bee pollen, saw palmetto, eliminating trigger foods, eating a healing diet, trying biofeedback therapy, practicing pelvic floor muscle training and using essential oils, especially frankincense, myrrh and oregano.
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