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Health A-Z

Medical Content Created by the Faculty of the
Harvard Medical School

What Is It?

The prostate is a walnut-sized gland that sits below the bladder in men. This gland makes fluid that mixes with sperm to form semen. Because the prostate surrounds the urethra (the tube that carries urine out of the body from the bladder), conditions that cause the prostate to swell or enlarge may press on the urethra and cause pain or problems with urination.

Prostatitis is inflammation of the prostate gland. Acute prostatitis is inflammation of the prostate gland that results in sudden onset of symptoms. Acute prostatitis is caused by an infection, usually by bacteria that get into the prostate by traveling up the urethra. Some of these bacteria are the normal germs that live on and inside your body. Other infections are transmitted through sexual contact.

Most men who will develop prostatitis have a normal prostate gland, although the infection may be more common in older men as the gland gets larger with age. There is no known link between prostatitis and prostate cancer.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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