Heat Therapy for Prostatitis
What Is Heat Therapy for Prostatitis?
Heat therapy is an alternative treatment for chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS). It involves applying local heat via a heating pad or hot-water bottle to the perineal area to relieve pain. Other alternative therapies that involve heat include sitz baths.
More involved heat therapies, also called hyperthermia, include transurethral microwave hyperthermia and transurethral microwave thermotherapy (TUMT). These therapies increase the temperature of the prostate to relieve symptoms. They are more invasive and are considered a last resort treatment.
How Does Heat Therapy Work?
Treatment with local heat using a heating pad or hot-water bottle helps increase blood flow to the area and can help with pain.
Treatment with TUMT has been reported to improve prostatitis symptoms scores by 74.9%. A randomized, double-blind, sham-controlled study using the prostatitis symptom severity index and questionnaires found demonstrated beneficial effect of TUMT compared to the group that received sham treatment. Patients who receive TUMT continued to experience improvement of symptoms for over 21 months.
TUMT is an outpatient procedure that is usually used for men with enlarged prostate due to benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). In the procedure a small microwave antenna is inserted through the tip of the penis into the urethra. The antenna is extended to the area of the urethra that is surrounded by the prostate. The antenna emits microwave energy that heats up the prostate area. It can help improve urinary symptoms and may take weeks or months to see the results.
You will be given a local anesthetic to numb the prostate area. You most likely will have intravenous sedation, which may make you drowsy but conscious during the procedure. You may feel some heat and discomfort, and you may have a strong urge to urinate.
Are there Risks of Heat Therapy?
There are a few risks of the TUMT procedure. It can cause short-term urinary retention, a urinary tract infection, narrowing of the urethra, retrograde ejaculation (dry orgasm). This treatment is considered experimental.
Heat therapy does not work for all men. Some men find pain relief with cold instead of heat, using ice packs on the perineal area instead or even placing a small ice cube in the rectum. Also, if sitting becomes uncomfortable, using cushions and pillows can help.
Reference for Heat Therapy for Prostatitis:
Mene MP et al. Transurethral microwave hyperthermia in the treatment of chronic non-bacterial prostatitis. J Urol 1998; 159: 1422-1423.