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Young Men Can Have Prostate Inflammation & Sitting Doesn't Help

ReachMD Healthcare Image
10/10/2023
yahoo.com

Key Takeaways

  • While prostate problems are often thought of as an older man’s nuisance, younger men may experience pain and discomfort in their prostate glands. This frequently takes them by surprise and may cause great concern, with cancer a top worry.
  • Prostate inflammation, or prostatitis, typically is caused by a sexually transmitted disease, UTI, or bacterial infection, and too much sitting can exacerbate an existing problem.
  • Simple strategies such as reducing uninterrupted hours sitting on hard surfaces or making use of prostate-friendly soft cushion seats go a long way toward mitigating the problem.

When 21-year-old Michael felt pain in his testicular region, he dismissed it for a few days, thinking it would probably disappear. But the pain eventually drove him to his university’s health center, which referred him to a urologist.

“Right away, he diagnosed me with prostatitis,” said the California college student. “I was initially freaked out because I didn’t know what that was, and it’s a very sensitive area of my body.”

Prostatitis is inflammation of the prostate, a small gland located between the penis and the rectum that is responsible for producing seminal fluid. If it gets irritated, pain in the genital area can result. But it’s often unclear what causes the problem. Michael was tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), which he didn’t have, and given an alpha blocker to help with prostate swelling. Almost immediately, he recalled, he felt better and hasn’t had an issue since.

Michael’s experience as a young man dealing with prostate irritation, far from being an anomaly, is surprisingly common. According to David Shusterman, MD, a board-certified urologist and founder of NY Urology in NYC, said first-time prostatitis sufferers typically are under 50.

“In younger people that are sexually active, it’s very common to have an STI that is the leading cause of prostatic or testicular pain,” he told Verywell. Older men who’ve had prostatitis before also may experience prostatitis, he added, although prostate problems in older men typically center around enlargement of the gland, not inflammation.

Physician assistant and sexual health educator Aleece Fosnight, MSPAS, PA-C, agrees that younger men are just as likely as older ones to experience prostate problems, particularly if they are sedentary.

“Age does not discriminate when it comes to the pelvic floor and prostate,” she told Verywell. “With changes in working from home and more and more jobs using a computer, sitting for prolonged periods of time has become quite common for many men.”

While sitting can contribute to a prostatitis flare, other risk factors are necessary for the condition to occur. Here’s what you need to know about keeping your prostate healthy.

Sitting Can Aggravate Prostatitis

Experts say that excessive sitting may be linked to prostate inflammation because of the unique physiology of the male pelvis. Sitting puts pressure on the scrotum, which can then do the same to the prostate.

“It creates a kind of compression effect that makes symptoms worse,” Shusterman said. “You’re basically pushing in on the prostate.”

Sitting on its own, however, doesn’t typically spark a bout of prostatitis.

“Sitting is rarely the cause of the problem, but often it’s the continuation of the problem,” Shusterman said. In other words, if the prostate is already agitated, whether from an STI, a urinary tract infection (UTI) or other bacterial infection, or some kind of physical trauma to the genital region, too much sitting may exacerbate the issue.

Michael had been in the process of applying to graduate school when his prostatitis flared up, meaning he was spending many hours sitting in front of his computer working on essays along with his coursework. Like other college students, his nether regions were at the mercy of the unforgiving plastic chairs often found in the library and residence halls. This kind of seating, especially when used for more than an hour or two, can really aggravate the problem.

Other types of seating frequently found in colleges and universities can present issues as well. Shusterman warns patients about bare-bones stadium seats or bleachers, which typically are filled with students on game days or during concerts. Wooden dining-hall benches and hard lecture-hall chairs should be approached with caution, too.

Practical Prevention Strategies

How can you minimize the effects on your prostate if you need to be seated? Shusterman recommends standing at regular intervals—even for a few seconds—to give the prostate some relief. If you’re on a long road trip, pull into a rest stop for a stretch. If you have a long class or laboratory, try to step out for a moment or even simply stand in place.

Another solution for people with prostatitis, or anyone who wants to avoid prostatitis, is to buy a prostate-friendly soft cushion seat. These cushions, which have a hole in the middle, may not be marketed specifically for prostate health (look for language such as “donut cushion for men”) but they do the job. Prostate cushions designed for bicycle seats typically are more narrow, with a wedge-shaped opening for the scrotum. (Fosnight regularly treats cyclists who suffer from prostate inflammation after long rides).

It’s important to pay attention to proper clothing and undergarments, too. Shusterman recommends underwear that provides good scrotal support, which in this case means briefs in lieu of boxers. But when it comes to pants, looser is better, he says, as the slim-fit pants so popular today can “traumatize” testicles.

Unsurprisingly, sexual activity can have an effect on the prostate, both positive and negative. Fosnight recommends the use of condoms for anyone engaging in anal intercourse, as bacteria entering the urethra can cause a urinary tract infection as well as prostatitis. For receptive anal partners, shorter sessions reduce the risk of prostate irritation. And making sure to ejaculate regularly, two or three times a week, also may be helpful, she said.

Prostatitis Does Not Mean Prostate Cancer

There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to prostatitis pain. Shusterman points out that it can be felt anywhere in the genital region, including the scrotum, tip of the penis, anus, and suprapubic area, which lies below the navel and above the pubic bone.

Ultimately, the most important thing to do if pain occurs is to see a doctor. A urologist or other specialist can perform an exam and order tests to rule out an infection. Patients may be prescribed an alpha blocker, as Michael was, or an antibiotic if the cause of the irritation is bacterial, such as an STI.

Shusterman emphasized that prostatitis is not linked to prostate cancer, even though he said it’s the number-one concern among patients who visit him with groin pain. In fact, he said prostatitis doesn’t cause cancer, doesn’t increase a person’s mortality, and doesn’t even increase a man’s chances of having prostate enlargement at some point, although this is extremely common with increasing age.

Other than making sure they get evaluated, the one thing men can do to take care of themselves and each other is simply to be honest about what they’re experiencing.

“Not a lot of people actually talk about it,” Shusterman said, adding that even many primary care physicians aren’t familiar with prostatitis and may not pass on the information to their patients. This can be especially confusing and upsetting when younger men experience prostate pain and irritation, as Michael found out.

“It’s the worst nightmare for a young man to have something wrong with his genitals,” he said, recalling his anxiety before a urologist put him at ease. “I don’t think young men are shouting from the rooftop that they have prostate pain.”

What This Means For You

Groin pain is a reason to seek medical attention, but that doesn’t mean it’s always scary. Prostatitis is a benign condition that can be mitigated, in part, by avoiding too much sitting.

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Schedule28 May 2024