Man using laptop to look up whether a swollen prostate can cause erectile dysfunction

Can a Swollen Prostate Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

Medically reviewed on December 19, 2023 by Jillian Foglesong Stabile, MD, FAAFP. 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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Erectile dysfunction (ED) can happen on occasion. But if it occurs often, you shouldn’t ignore it. This is because ED can be a sign of an underlying health condition, like chronically low testosterone or prostate disease.[1,2]

One common type of prostate disease is prostatitis, which can cause inflammation of the prostate gland.[3] If you’re wondering, can a swollen prostate cause erectile dysfunction, this article is for you.

In addition to contributing to erectile dysfunction, prostatitis can cause groin, pelvic, and genital pain and discomfort.[3] If you’re worried your ED may be caused by a prostate condition, we’ll shed light on how the two are connected, as well as prostate enlargement treatment options, below.

Defining Erectile Dysfunction

Healthcare providers define erectile dysfunction as difficulty maintaining or achieving an erection in 25% or more of sexual encounters. [4] ED may also be accompanied by other symptoms like [1]:

  • Premature ejaculation
  • Difficulty reaching orgasm
  • Low libido

Though a variety of lifestyle interventions and medications are available for remedying erectile dysfunction, it’s important to consult with a healthcare provider about your symptoms. They can also help answer “What age does erectile dysfunction start?” and provide early detection or treatment. It’s thought that approximately 70% of cases of ED are caused by vascular restriction or nerve dysfunction.[4] ED can also be a symptom or precursor to more serious and far-reaching conditions like [1]:

  • Hypertension
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Prostate disease

Prostate Disease: Types, Causes, And Symptoms

The prostate is a part of male sexual anatomy that’s positioned between the bladder and rectum.[3] The prostate gland’s job is to make the seminal fluids that are emitted during ejaculation.[3]

Many men and people assigned male at birth (AMAB) experience problems with their prostate health at some point in their lives, particularly if they’ve had a UTI. One type of prostate disease that can cause erectile dysfunction is benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), which causes the prostate to swell.[4] Another is prostatitis, which impacts an estimated 10 to 15% of American men and people AMAB, prompting some 2 million to seek medical care annually.[5]

Healthcare providers recognize four main types of prostatitis [3]:

  1. Chronic bacterial prostatitis, which develops as a result of a previous infection that wasn’t completely treated
  2. Acute bacterial prostatitis, which has a rapid onset and develops as the result of an infection
  3. Chronic prostatitis or pelvic pain syndrome, which may be caused by a prior infection or another dysfunction (e.g. immune system dysfunction)
  4. Asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis, which has an undefined cause and is usually left untreated

All forms of prostatitis may present with all or some of the following symptoms [5]:

  • Pelvic pain or discomfort between the scrotum and anus, lower abdomen, penis, or lower back
  • Pain during or following urination
  • An urgent or increased need to urinate
  • An increase in the frequency of urination

More severe cases of prostatitis can cause erectile dysfunction or pain during ejaculation.[3] One of the most serious forms is acute bacterial prostatitis, which is typically accompanied by fever, body aches, chills, or even nausea and vomiting.[5] If you experience any of these symptoms, seek medical care immediately.[5]

Diagnosing Prostate Disease

You’re more likely to develop a swollen prostate if you’re a young or middle-aged adult. A history of UTIs, prostatitis, or catheter use can also make you more vulnerable to prostatitis and prostate swelling.[3]

Because prostatitis is often caused by an infection, healthcare providers may run labs to ascertain whether or not you’ve been exposed to bacteria that could cause your prostate to swell.[3] Tests might include [3]:

  • Urine tests
  • Blood tests
  • Prostate fluid tests

A healthcare provider may also conduct a physical exam to manually feel whether your rectum or prostate is swollen [3] Imaging techniques may also be used to examine your enlarged prostate for inflammation.[3]

Treatment Options For Prostate Swelling And Erectile Dysfunction

Treatment approaches to a swollen prostate vary according to the root cause diagnosed by your healthcare provider. In some cases, prostate swelling may have no clear cause, and your healthcare provider may not prescribe a course of treatment.

That said, some common therapies include [3]:

  • Antibiotics, if your prostate swelling has been caused by bacterial infection.
  • Alpha-blocker medications, which help to relax the muscles near your prostate. These may be prescribed if you experience pain or discomfort during urination.
  • Pain medications, which may be prescribed if your pelvic or groin pain is inhibiting your quality of life

If your erectile dysfunction is linked to prostate inflammation, caring for your prostate health may significantly help improve your sexual symptoms. If your ED doesn’t resolve with treatment, it’s important to work with your healthcare provider to explore alternative explanations.

Remember, many men and people AMAB deal with ED, and your sexual health is an integral part of your overall well-being. Contending with ED head-on can be a critical—even life-saving—part of supporting your body in all its functions. Discover more information, including the worst foods for erectile dysfunction, to take your health into your own hands.

Take Control Of Your Sexual Health With Everlywell

Whether you’re confronting ED, low libido, or other concerns, Everlywell’s online men’s health consultations make achieving optimal sexual health more convenient and accessible. With Everlywell, you can connect with a qualified telehealth professional who’ll assess your symptoms and help design your path toward sexual well-being.

Take charge of your sexual health with Everlywell by booking your virtual visit today.

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  1. Erectile Dysfunction. Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Mach 29, 2022. URL. Accessed December 14, 2023.
  2. Sex and the Prostate: Overcoming Erectile Dysfunction When You Have Prostate Disease. Harvard Health. April 29, 2021. URL. Accessed December 14, 2023.
  3. Prostatitis. Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. February 19, 2022. URL. Accessed December 14, 2023.
  4. Sex and the Prostate: Overcoming Erectile Dysfunction When You Have Prostate Disease. Harvard Health. April 21, 2021. URL. Accessed December 14, 2023.
  5. Prostatitis: Inflammation of the Prostate - NIDDK. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. URL. Accessed December 14, 2023.

Jillian Foglesong Stabile, MD, FAAFP is a board-certified Family Physician. Since completing her residency training in 2010, she’s been practicing full-scope family medicine in a rural setting. Dr. Foglesong Stabile’s practice includes caring for patients of all ages for preventative care as well as chronic disease management. She also provides prenatal care and delivers babies. Dr. Foglesong Stabile completed a teaching fellowship in 2020 and teaches the family medicine clerkship for one of her local medical schools. Dr. Foglesong Stabile’s favorite thing about family medicine is the variety of patients she sees in her clinical practice.

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