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There are a number of things that can cause male pelvic pain. It can be challenging to narrow down the source of discomfort, but one of the most common types of male pelvic pain that affects about 50% of men at some point in their lives is prostatitis.
There are several types of prostatitis. Some kinds of prostatitis are caused by bacteria, such as acute bacterial prostatitis and chronic bacterial prostatitis. The majority of men suffering with prostatitis, however (about 90 to 95% of the men with prostatitis), have a nonbacterial form of chronic prostatitis, also called chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CPPS). This type of prostatitis is the most debilitating and challenging to understand and treat. This nonbacterial prostatitis does not respond to conventional treatment methods like antibiotics, and the condition is most often caused by tension in the pelvis. Many men are surprised to learn that many of its causes originate somewhere else in the body and pelvis and outside of the prostate itself.
Other types of pelvic pain
Besides CPPS, there are similar conditions to prostatitis that do share some symptoms of pelvic pain or sexual pain. These other conditions may stand alone, occur along with prostatitis, or may even be a cause of prostatitis. If you are not having any success at getting to the cause of your pelvic pain, talk to your physician about the following possible conditions:
- Interstitial cystitis
- Pelvic trauma (due to injury or irritating activities)
- Stress-related pelvic pain (may benefit from stress management and myofascial release or trigger point therapy)
- Reactive arthritis (and autoimmune condition)
- Urethral stricture (narrowing of the urethra)
- Post-vasectomy pain syndrome (chronic testicular pain for over three months after the procedure)
- Chronic fatigue (often with fatigue and muscle/joint pain)
- Pudendal nerve entrapment (causes urinary trouble, bowel, trouble, sexual problems, and neurological symptoms)
- Pelvic joint dysfunction (can be linked to pelvic pain syndrome and pain can also affect groin, butt, lower back, and hips)
- Enlarged prostate due to benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)
- Prostate cancer
- Testicular cancer
There are a few conditions that often accompany men with prostatitis even if they don’t seem like they would be related. These are called comorbidities. Men who have a lot of stress, tension, and anxiety often suffer from prostatitis. Some men who have pelvic pain due to prostatitis also suffer from medical conditions like irritable bowel syndrome and leaky gut. This may be related to food intolerances or allergies.
Some men who have prostatitis also suffer from chronic sinusitis. Sometimes symptoms flare up at the same time, which make’s one wonder whether trigger is causing both problems. In all of these cases, it is important to seek treatment for both conditions. That is why whole-body approaches to male pelvic pain are usually the most successful.
How to fight pelvic pain
One of the more thorough ways to determine what is contributing to your pelvic pain is using a holistic approach like naturopathic urologist Dr. Geo Espinosa’s prostatitis treatment program. Dr. Geo is a specialist in male pelvic health at NYU, and his program looks at a man’s diet, nutrition, stress level, exercise, allergies, and other issues of concern elsewhere in the body.
Dr. Geo’s program employs natural treatments like elimination diets. Looking at your diet is important because sometimes eliminating a spicy or acidic food (or wheat) can help bring down inflammation and provide relief. Dr. Geo has patients take well-researched natural supplements (pollen extracts and quercetin) and probiotics. This multimodal program also employs alternative therapies such as acupuncture, prostate massage, and pelvic floor muscle rehabilitation. And, of course, it involves lifestyle changes, chronic stress management, and exercise, all which can be beneficial for ending male pain.
Talk to your doctor about testing and diagnosis for prostatitis and other causes of male pelvic pain. Keep in mind that a multimodal approach to pelvic pain is the most successful treatment plan, especially if traditional treatments have not brought success. Living with chronic pain is frustrating, but if you give it time, and try multiple methods and a whole-body approach, you can find relief from your male pelvic pain and regain your normal activity.