Man experiencing a prostate infection wondering whether it can be sexually transmitted

Can a prostate infection be sexually transmitted?

Written on March 24, 2023 by Amy Harris, MS, RN, CNM. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

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Your sexual health is an essential part of your overall wellness. Just like you need to make sure all of your car's various parts are in working order, you also need to pay attention to the inner workings of your body to have a good sex life. While tiny and frequently ignored, your prostate can get sexually transmitted infections just like your penis, urethra, rectum, and bladder. But can a prostate infection be sexually transmitted? Read on to learn more about the causes and symptoms of sexually transmitted prostate infections so you can keep your sexual health in tip-top shape.

What is a prostate infection?

A prostate infection (aka prostatitis) is an infection and inflammation (swelling) of the prostate gland. The prostate is a chestnut-shaped gland in those people born with a penis and testes. It lies underneath the bladder. Its main job is to add liquid secretions to sperm during ejaculation to make semen.

Prostate infections can have several causes, but for this post, we’ll discuss prostatitis caused by sexually transmitted infections (STIs). STIs don’t cause many prostate infections, but they should never be ruled out as a cause of your pain or discomfort [1]. A prostate infection is different from prostate cancer.

How does a prostate infection happen?

If bacteria enter the prostate gland, they can grow (in numbers) and cause infection. Humans have many bacteria living all over their bodies, some healthy for us and others not. If bacteria from one part of your body (say your gut) accidentally get into your penis where they don’t usually live, they can start causing problems (and symptoms) for you.

As the bacteria reproduce increase in number, they can travel further up into your urinary tract—up your urethra into your bladder, epididymis (the sperm highway from the testes), and your prostate. The same bacteria responsible for most urinary infections in both genders (E. coli) causes most bacterial prostate infections [1].

Fortunately, in most cases, prostate infections are short-lived and go away with treatment [2]. Some men do, however, experience recurrent infections of the prostate or infections lasting longer than three months (called chronic prostatitis) [1].

Who gets prostate infections, and how common are they?

People with a prostate of any age can get prostate infections. Prostate infections are very common. Half of all men have symptoms of prostatitis at some point in their lives. More than two million men yearly see a healthcare provider for prostatitis symptoms [3]. While STIs can cause prostate infections, they rarely do so [1].

Which STIs can cause a prostate infection?

Gonorrhea, chlamydia, and trichomoniasis are STIs that can cause a prostate infection. They spread through semen most often [1,4]. Having one of these STIs can make it easier for you to get infected with other STIs [4].

What are the symptoms of a sexually-transmitted prostate infection?

Experiencing symptoms of prostatitis after recent sexual activity? Forgot to use protection? You should see a healthcare provider to be tested for common sexually transmitted infections. Some of the most common symptoms of a prostate infection to watch for are [1,2]:

  • Burning or pain during urination
  • Pain in your penis, testicles, or perineum (area between the testicles and rectum)
  • Frequent urge to urinate (pee)
  • Weak urine flow or urine stream that starts and stops
  • Painful ejaculation or pain during intercourse
  • Blood in your semen
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Bloody or cloudy urine

If you have what is called an acute prostate infection, you may experience all-over body symptoms like [3]:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Body aches
  • Fever and chills
  • Pain in your abdomen or lower back

How can I protect myself from sexually transmitted prostate infections?

While STI-related prostate infections are rare, it is still a smart idea to always play it safe when having sex. This means [4]:

  1. Wearing condoms.
  2. Getting tested regularly for sexually transmitted infections. Everlywell makes routine testing a breeze with individual at-home chlamydia & gonorrhea and trichomoniasis tests or a bundled STI-screening toolkit to check for six different STIs.
  3. Checking in with a healthcare provider if you have any symptoms of a prostate infection.
  4. Avoiding sex if you have any symptoms of prostate infection or other sexually-transmitted infection symptoms.

If my partner has a sexually transmitted prostate infection, should I get treatment?

Yes. Antibiotic pills or shots can usually cure bacterial infections, including a sexually transmitted prostate infection. Quick treatment will keep you from spreading the infection back and forth between you and your partner(s) and help you both feel better faster. STIs like gonorrhea, chlamydia, and trichomoniasis don’t always cause recognizable symptoms, especially for men [4]. That is why regular screening for common STIs will keep you healthy and STI-free even if you don’t have any symptoms.

Everlywell offers at-home chlamydia and gonorrhea tests and trichomoniasis tests that include easy-to-follow instructions and everything you need to collect your sample at home. Your physician-reviewed test results can be easily—and securely—viewed online. Not sure which STI tests to choose or confused by your symptoms? You can schedule a virtual healthcare appointment for men's health online to talk about how you can start having a healthier and safer sex life today—all from the privacy of your own home.

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  1. Prostatitis - bacterial. MedlinePlus. Published July 6, 2021. Accessed March 15, 2023.
  2. Prostatitis. Mayo Clinic. Published February 19, 2023. Accessed March 16, 2023.
  3. Prostatitis. Cleveland Clinic. Published January 7, 2021. Accessed March 15, 2023.
  4. Gay and bisexual men’s health: sexually transmitted diseases. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published September 16, 2022. Accessed March 15, 2023.
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