Sexual Health Q&A

How is acute bacterial prostatitis diagnosed?

Acute bacterial prostatitis refers to inflammation of the prostate gland that is caused by a bacterial infection, such as a sexually-transmitted infection or a urinary tract infection. Bacteria can travel up the urethra (the tube from which men urinate and ejaculate semen) to the prostate.

Doctors use several methods to diagnose acute bacterial prostatitis:

Physical exam. The doctor checks for tenderness or swelling in the scrotum and the lymph nodes of the groin and notes any unusual discharge from the urethra.

Digital rectal exam. By inserting a gloved finger into the patient’s rectum, the doctor examines the prostate directly, feeling for any swelling or tenderness.

Transrectal ultrasound. An ultrasound uses sound waves to create a picture of the prostate that a doctor can see, and analyze, on a computer screen.

Specimen tests (urine, blood, semen). Sometimes, doctors take samples of urine, blood, or semen to analyze further in a lab. These tests can provide clues about the type of infection involved.

Many of these procedures can be done in a doctor’s office.