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Harvard Medical School
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General Medical Questions
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Question : I have been told that I have a congested prostate. Can you please explain what this is?
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The Trusted Source
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Howard LeWine, M.D.

Howard LeWine, M.D., is chief editor of Internet Publishing, Harvard Health Publications. He is a clinical instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital. Dr. LeWine has been a primary care internist and teacher of internal medicine since 1978.

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August 16, 2012
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A:

“Congested prostate” is not a specific medical term. I assume your doctor is referring to a condition known as chronic prostatitis.

The prostate is a walnut-sized gland that sits below a man’s bladder. The gland makes fluid that mixes with sperm to form semen. The prostate surrounds the urethra (the tube that carries urine out of the body from the bladder). So conditions that cause the prostate to swell or enlarge may press on the urethra and cause pain or problems when urinating.

Chronic prostatitis is a common cause of urinary difficulties in men. But it’s not very well understood. Other names for this condition include non-bacterial prostatitis, prostatosis, and prostadynia. Typical symptoms include pelvic pain and difficulty and discomfort with urination. Symptoms may persist. Or they may come and go.

There is much disagreement, even among experts, about the cause and appropriate treatment for chronic prostatitis. It’s likely that chronic prostatitis is not one disease. Rather several different conditions that cause similar symptoms.

  • Some men clearly have a chronic prostate infection, with evidence of bacteria and infection-fighting white blood cells in the urine.
  • In other men, the gland is swollen and inflamed. But there are no obvious signs of infection. Whether there really is a hidden infection in these men is controversial.
  • A third group of men complain of typical prostate symptoms. But they have a normal exam and no evidence of infection at all. The cause of symptoms in this last group is the least well understood.

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