Female “Prostatitis”: How Is That Possible?

Andrew Siegel MD  12/22/2018

The prostate gland is that mysterious male reproductive organ that can be a source of curiosity, anxiety, fear and potential trouble.  Although women do not have a prostate gland, they have a female equivalent, known as the Skene’s glands.  Like the prostate, these glands can be a source of maladies resulting from their infection/inflammation, the female version of prostatitis.

Image below: note Swedish “slida” is vagina (literally “sheath”); note Skenes and Bartholins gland  openings, “urinrorsmynning” = urethra; “klitoris” = clitoris


Attribution of image above: By Nicholasolan (Skenes gland.jpg) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The Skene’s glands, a.k.a. the para-urethral glands, are present in all females and are the female equivalent of the male prostate gland. They were first described in 1880 by Dr. Alex Skene, a Brooklyn gynecologist.  These paired glands are located within the top wall of the vagina near the urethra and drain into the urethra and to tiny openings near the urethral opening (see image above).  Like the prostate, these glands envelop the urethra and contain prostate-specific antigen (PSA), an enzyme that can indicate prostate health in males. Although their precise function is unknown, they are thought to provide genital lubrication. At the time of sexual climax, they can release a small amount of fluid into the urethra, paralleling the male release of prostate fluid at the time of ejaculation.

Similar to the male prostate that is subject to inflammation and infections (prostatitis), the Skene’s glands can be similarly afflicted, a condition known as Skenitis.  Skenitis can give rise to the following symptoms:

  • A urinary infection that fails to be cured or reoccurs after appropriate treatment with a course of antibiotics
  • Pain at the urethral opening or at the top wall of the vagina
  • Pronounced tenderness with contact, e.g., touch, tampon insertion, sexual intercourse, tight clothing

Pelvic examination in a patient suffering with Skenitis usually shows the following:

  • Tenderness at the urethral opening or just within the vagina
  • A discharge of pus from the Skene’s glands ducts (tiny openings visible at 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock relative to the urethral opening) that can be expressed by compressing the urethra
  • A red and inflamed mass around the urethra (para-urethral mass)

Treatment of Skenitis usually involves a prolonged use of a potent antibiotic in conjunction with supportive measures, including warm, moist compresses and sitz baths. A 4-week course of antibiotics is often required (similar to the prolonged course necessary for treating prostatitis). At times a Skene’s abscess needs to be aspirated with a needle and syringe, or alternatively drained.  If the Skenitis does not respond satisfactorily to antibiotics and supportive measures, a surgical procedure may be required to remove the diseased portion of the urethra with the infected Skene’s gland.

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

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Dr. Andrew Siegel is a physician and urological surgeon who is board-certified in urology as well as in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.  He is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School and is a Castle Connolly Top Doctor New York Metro Area, Inside Jersey Top Doctor and Inside Jersey Top Doctor for Women’s Health. His mission is to “bridge the gap” between the public and the medical community.

Dr. Siegel has authored the following books that are available on Amazon, iBooks, Nook and Kobo:

MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health

THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health 

PROMISCUOUS EATING: Understanding and Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship with Food


These books are written for educated and discerning men and women who care about health, well-being, fitness and nutrition and enjoy feeling confident and strong.

Dr. Siegel is co-creator of the male pelvic floor exercise instructional DVD (female version is in the works): PelvicRx

New video on female pelvic floor exercises:  Learn about your pelvic floor

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One Response to “Female “Prostatitis”: How Is That Possible?”

  1. It Burns When I Pee: What’s That About? | Our Greatest Wealth Is Health Says:

    […] urination in males and the parallel process in females, para-urethral gland infection (a.k.a. Skenitis, an infection of the Skene’s gland—the female homologue of the prostate) can also give rise to […]

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