Chronic Pelvic Pain in Men

Chronic Pelvic Pain in Men

Chronic pelvic pain (CPP) in men is a complex and often debilitating condition characterized by persistent discomfort or pain in the lower abdominal region, pelvis, and genital area. Unlike acute pelvic pain, which typically arises suddenly and is often associated with a specific cause such as injury or infection, chronic pelvic pain persists for at least three to six months and can be challenging to diagnose and manage.

This condition can significantly impact a man’s quality of life, affecting not only physical health but also emotional well-being, relationships, and daily functioning. The exact cause of CPP in men is often multifactorial and may involve a combination of physical, psychological, and social factors. Early recognition and intervention are essential for optimizing outcomes and restoring quality of life for individuals affected by this condition.

What is chronic pelvic pain in men?

Chronic pelvic pain in men refers to persistent or recurrent pain and discomfort in the lower abdominal region, pelvis, and genital area that lasts for at least three to six months. Unlike acute pelvic pain, which often has a specific cause and resolves relatively quickly, chronic pelvic pain persists over an extended period and can significantly impact a man’s quality of life.

CPP in men can have multiple underlying causes, including pelvic floor dysfunction, chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS), pelvic congestion syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome (IC/BPS), psychological factors, nerve dysfunction, and structural abnormalities.

Overall, chronic pelvic pain in men is a complex condition that requires a multidisciplinary approach for effective management, aiming to alleviate symptoms, address underlying causes, and improve the patient’s quality of life.

Causes of chronic pelvic pain

CPP in men can have various underlying causes, which may contribute individually or in combination to the development of the condition. Identifying the specific cause or causes of pelvic pain in an individual patient can often be challenging and may require a thorough evaluation by a healthcare provider. Some common causes of chronic pelvic pain in men include:

  • Chronic Prostatitis/Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome (CP/CPPS): This condition involves inflammation or irritation of the prostate gland and is one of the most common causes of chronic pelvic pain in men. The exact cause of CP/CPPS is not always clear, but it may involve infection, inflammation, pelvic floor dysfunction, or other factors.
  • Pelvic Floor Dysfunction: Dysfunction of the muscles, ligaments, and connective tissues in the pelvic floor can lead to CPP. Pelvic floor dysfunction may result from muscle tension, weakness, or imbalances, often contributing to symptoms such as pelvic pain, urinary dysfunction, and sexual dysfunction.
  • Pelvic Congestion Syndrome: This condition occurs when veins in the pelvic area become enlarged or varicose, leading to chronic pelvic pain. Pelvic congestion syndrome may be associated with conditions that cause increased pressure in the abdomen, such as obesity, pregnancy, or standing for long periods.
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): Some men with CPP may also have symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, such as abdominal pain, bloating, and altered bowel habits. The overlap of symptoms between IBS and chronic pelvic pain suggests a potential connection between the two conditions.
  • Interstitial Cystitis/Bladder Pain Syndrome (IC/BPS): Inflammation of the bladder wall can result in chronic pelvic pain, urinary urgency, frequency, and discomfort. IC/BPS is more common in women but can also occur in men and may be associated with pelvic floor dysfunction and other pelvic pain conditions.
  • Psychological Factors: Stress, anxiety, depression, or past trauma can exacerbate or contribute to pelvic pain symptoms. Psychological factors may interact with physical causes of pelvic pain, leading to increased pain perception and decreased pain tolerance.
  • Nerve Dysfunction: Damage or irritation to nerves in the pelvic region can cause chronic pelvic pain. Conditions such as pudendal neuralgia or neuropathic pain syndromes may involve nerve compression, inflammation, or injury, leading to persistent pain in the pelvis and genital area.
  • Structural Abnormalities: Hernias, scar tissue, pelvic organ prolapse, or other structural issues in the pelvic area may be associated with chronic pelvic pain. Structural abnormalities can result from previous surgeries, trauma, or congenital conditions.
  • Sexual Dysfunction: Disorders of sexual function, such as erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, or painful ejaculation, may be associated with chronic pelvic pain in some men. Sexual dysfunction can contribute to psychological distress and exacerbate pelvic pain symptoms.

It’s important to note that chronic pelvic pain in men is often multifactorial, and individual patients may have unique combinations of contributing factors. A comprehensive evaluation by a healthcare provider is essential for accurately diagnosing the underlying causes of pelvic pain and developing an appropriate treatment plan tailored to the patient’s specific needs.

Symptoms of  CPP

Chronic pelvic pain in men can manifest with a variety of symptoms, which may vary in severity and duration among individuals. Some common symptoms of chronic pelvic pain in men include:

  • Persistent or Recurrent Pelvic Pain: CPP is characterized by ongoing discomfort or pain in the lower abdominal region, pelvis, and genital area. This pain may be dull, aching, cramping, or sharp and may vary in intensity over time.
  • Discomfort or Pain During Urination: Some men with CPP may experience pain or discomfort during urination. This symptom may be indicative of underlying conditions such as prostatitis or interstitial cystitis.
  • Discomfort or Pain During Bowel Movements: CPP may be associated with discomfort or pain during bowel movements. This symptom may occur in conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or pelvic floor dysfunction.
  • Pain During or After Sexual Activity: Many men with CPP report experiencing pain during or after sexual activity, including pain during ejaculation (dysorgasmia) or pain in the genital area. This symptom can significantly impact sexual function and intimacy.
  • Urinary Symptoms: CPP may be accompanied by urinary symptoms such as increased frequency, urgency, or difficulty emptying the bladder. These symptoms may suggest underlying conditions such as prostatitis or interstitial cystitis.
  • Sexual Dysfunction: CPP can contribute to sexual dysfunction, including erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, or changes in libido. These symptoms may be related to physical discomfort, psychological distress, or both.
  • Lower Back Pain or Discomfort: Some men with CPP may experience accompanying lower back pain or discomfort. This symptom may be related to musculoskeletal issues, nerve compression, or referred pain from pelvic structures.
  • Psychological Symptoms: Chronic pelvic pain can have significant psychological effects, leading to symptoms such as anxiety, depression, irritability, or difficulty concentrating. These psychological symptoms may result from the chronic nature of the pain, its impact on daily functioning, and the associated emotional distress.
  • Fatigue: Chronic pelvic pain can be physically and emotionally draining, leading to fatigue or decreased energy levels. Fatigue may result from disrupted sleep patterns, stress, or the body’s response to persistent pain.
  • Other Symptoms: Depending on the underlying cause of chronic pelvic pain, men may experience additional symptoms such as constipation, diarrhea, bloating, pelvic muscle tension or spasms, and difficulty sitting for prolonged periods.


Diagnosing chronic pelvic pain in men can be challenging due to the diverse range of potential underlying causes and the complex nature of the condition. The diagnostic process typically involves a comprehensive evaluation by a healthcare provider, which may include the following components:

  • Medical History: A detailed medical history is essential for understanding the onset, duration, and characteristics of the pelvic pain, as well as any associated symptoms or relevant medical conditions. Information about past surgeries, infections, trauma, sexual history, and urinary or bowel function may also be relevant.
  • Physical Examination: A thorough physical examination, including examination of the abdomen, pelvis, genitalia, and rectum, may help identify signs of inflammation, infection, structural abnormalities, or pelvic floor dysfunction. Digital rectal examination (DRE) may be performed to assess the prostate gland and evaluate for tenderness or enlargement.
  • Urinalysis and Urine Culture: Urinalysis and urine culture may be conducted to assess for signs of infection, inflammation, or other urinary tract abnormalities that may contribute to pelvic pain. Urine tests can help rule out conditions such as urinary tract infections or prostatitis.
  • Blood Tests: Blood tests may be ordered to assess for markers of inflammation, infection, prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels, hormone levels, or other indicators of systemic or metabolic abnormalities. These tests can help identify underlying conditions such as prostatitis, inflammatory disorders, or hormonal imbalances.
  • Imaging Studies: Imaging studies such as ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or computed tomography (CT) scans may be performed to evaluate the pelvic anatomy, identify structural abnormalities, and assess for signs of inflammation, tumors, or other pathologies. Transrectal ultrasound (TRUS) may be used to evaluate the prostate gland in cases of suspected prostatitis or other prostate-related conditions.
  • Urodynamic Studies: Urodynamic testing may be recommended to assess bladder function and evaluate for urinary tract abnormalities that may contribute to pelvic pain or urinary symptoms. Urodynamic studies can help diagnose conditions such as overactive bladder, bladder outlet obstruction, or neurogenic bladder dysfunction.
  • Pelvic Floor Assessment: Evaluation of pelvic floor function may be conducted through specialized tests such as electromyography (EMG), manometry, or pelvic floor muscle assessment. These tests can help identify pelvic floor dysfunction, muscle tension, weakness, or coordination problems that may contribute to pelvic pain.
  • Psychological Evaluation: Given the significant impact of chronic pelvic pain on psychological well-being, a psychological evaluation may be recommended to assess for symptoms of anxiety, depression, stress, or other psychological factors that may influence pain perception and coping mechanisms.
  • Diagnostic Procedures: In some cases, diagnostic procedures such as cystoscopy, proctoscopy, or pelvic laparoscopy may be performed to directly visualize the pelvic organs, assess for inflammation, biopsy suspicious lesions, or identify structural abnormalities.
  • Multidisciplinary Consultation: Depending on the complexity of the case and the suspected underlying causes of pelvic pain, consultation with specialists such as urologists, gastroenterologists, pain management specialists, pelvic floor physical therapists, or psychologists may be beneficial for comprehensive evaluation and management.

Overall, the diagnosis of chronic pelvic pain in men often requires a multidisciplinary approach, with careful consideration of the patient’s medical history, symptoms, physical examination findings, and results of diagnostic tests to identify the underlying causes and develop an appropriate treatment plan tailored to the individual’s needs.


Chronic pelvic pain in men can lead to several complications that affect both physical and mental health. These complications may vary depending on the underlying causes of the pain and individual factors. Some potential complications of chronic pelvic pain in men include:

  • Decreased Quality of Life: Chronic pelvic pain can significantly impair a man’s quality of life by interfering with daily activities, work, relationships, and recreational pursuits. Persistent pain can lead to frustration, anxiety, depression, social isolation, and decreased overall well-being.
  • Sexual Dysfunction: Pelvic pain can impact sexual function and intimacy, leading to sexual dysfunction such as erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, or painful ejaculation. These issues can strain relationships and contribute to psychological distress.
  • Urinary Symptoms: Chronic pelvic pain may be associated with urinary symptoms such as increased frequency, urgency, hesitancy, or difficulty emptying the bladder. These symptoms can be disruptive and affect urinary function and comfort.
  • Psychological Distress: Living with chronic pelvic pain can cause significant psychological distress, including anxiety, depression, irritability, mood swings, and difficulty concentrating. Psychological symptoms may exacerbate pain perception and reduce coping abilities.
  • Sleep Disturbances: Chronic pain can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or experiencing restorative sleep. Sleep disturbances can exacerbate pain sensitivity, fatigue, and overall functioning.
  • Impact on Work and Activities: Pelvic pain may limit a man’s ability to work, engage in physical activities, and participate in hobbies or recreational pursuits. Reduced productivity, absenteeism, and limitations on physical activities can affect vocational functioning and personal fulfillment.
  • Dependency on Medications: To manage chronic pelvic pain, individuals may rely on medications such as pain relievers, muscle relaxants, or antidepressants. Long-term use of these medications may lead to dependency, tolerance, side effects, and potential complications.
  • Financial Burden: Managing chronic pelvic pain may involve medical expenses, including healthcare visits, diagnostic tests, treatments, medications, and possibly surgery or other interventions. These costs can place a financial burden on individuals and families, especially if the condition requires ongoing management or specialized care.
  • Social Isolation and Relationship Strain: Chronic pelvic pain can lead to social withdrawal, isolation, and relationship strain. Difficulty discussing pelvic pain with others, decreased participation in social activities, and changes in mood or behavior can impact relationships with family, friends, and romantic partners.
  • Increased Risk of Mental Health Disorders: Living with chronic pain can increase the risk of developing mental health disorders such as anxiety disorders, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or substance abuse disorders. Psychological distress and pain-related disability may contribute to the development or exacerbation of these conditions.

Treatment of  chronic pelvic pain in men

Treating chronic pelvic pain in men often requires a multidisciplinary approach aimed at addressing the underlying causes, managing symptoms, and improving overall quality of life. Treatment strategies may vary depending on the specific etiology of the pain and individual patient factors. Here are several approaches commonly used in the management of chronic pelvic pain in men:


  • Pain relievers: Over-the-counter or prescription pain medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or acetaminophen may help alleviate pelvic pain.
    • Muscle relaxants: Medications to relax pelvic floor muscles may be prescribed to reduce muscle tension and alleviate pain.
    • Antidepressants: Certain antidepressant medications, such as tricyclic antidepressants or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), may help manage chronic pelvic pain by modulating pain perception and improving mood.
    • Alpha-blockers: These medications may be prescribed to relax the muscles in the prostate and bladder neck, potentially reducing urinary symptoms and pelvic pain.

Physical Therapy:

  • Pelvic floor physical therapy: Specialized physical therapy techniques, including pelvic floor muscle relaxation, biofeedback, manual therapy, and stretching exercises, can help improve pelvic floor function and alleviate pelvic pain.
    • Myofascial release therapy: This technique involves applying gentle pressure to release tight or tender points in the pelvic floor muscles, potentially reducing pelvic pain and improving function.

Behavioral Therapies:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT can help individuals with chronic pelvic pain identify and modify maladaptive thought patterns, develop coping strategies for pain management, and address psychological factors contributing to pain perception.
    • Relaxation techniques: Techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, mindfulness meditation, or guided imagery may help reduce stress, muscle tension, and pain.

Lifestyle Modifications:

  • Dietary changes: Avoiding potential dietary triggers such as spicy foods, caffeine, alcohol, and acidic or carbonated beverages may help reduce pelvic pain symptoms in some individuals.
    • Bladder training: Strategies to improve bladder function, such as scheduled voiding, pelvic floor exercises, and avoiding bladder irritants, may help alleviate urinary symptoms associated with chronic pelvic pain.

Interventional Procedures:

  • Trigger point injections: Injections of local anesthetics or steroids into tender or hypertonic trigger points in the pelvic floor muscles may provide temporary relief from pelvic pain.
    • Nerve blocks: Injection of local anesthetics or nerve-blocking agents near affected nerves or ganglia may help alleviate neuropathic pain associated with chronic pelvic pain.

Surgical Interventions:

  • In some cases, surgery may be considered to address underlying structural abnormalities, such as pelvic organ prolapse, hernias, or adhesions, that contribute to pelvic pain.
    • Minimally invasive procedures, such as laparoscopic or robotic-assisted surgery, may be performed to diagnose and treat conditions such as endometriosis, pelvic congestion syndrome, or chronic prostatitis.

Complementary and Alternative Therapies:

  • Acupuncture, massage therapy, chiropractic care, herbal supplements, and other complementary therapies may be considered as adjunctive treatments for chronic pelvic pain, although evidence supporting their efficacy is limited.

Psychological Support:

  • Counseling, support groups, or psychotherapy may be beneficial for addressing the emotional and psychological aspects of living with chronic pelvic pain, reducing stress, improving coping skills, and enhancing overall well-being.


  • Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT) is a treatment modality that has been explored for managing chronic pelvic pain in men, particularly in cases of chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS) where conventional treatments may have limited efficacy. ESWT involves the delivery of high-energy shockwaves to the affected area, which is thought to stimulate tissue repair and modulate pain perception.

Prognosis of  CPP

The prognosis for chronic pelvic pain in men can vary widely depending on factors such as the underlying cause of the pain, the effectiveness of treatment, individual response to therapy, and the presence of any complicating factors. In many cases, CPP in men can be challenging to diagnose and manage, and achieving complete resolution of symptoms may not always be possible. However, with appropriate management and ongoing support, many individuals with chronic pelvic pain can experience improvements in pain, function, and quality of life over time.

Some factors that may influence the prognosis of chronic pelvic pain in men include:

  • Underlying Cause: The specific underlying cause of pelvic pain can significantly impact the prognosis. Conditions such as chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS), pelvic floor dysfunction, or interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome (IC/BPS) may have different treatment approaches and outcomes.
  • Treatment Response: The response to various treatment modalities, including medications, physical therapy, behavioral therapies, and interventional procedures, can affect the prognosis. Some individuals may experience significant symptom relief with conservative treatments, while others may require more aggressive interventions or multimodal approaches.
  • Psychological Factors: The presence of psychological factors such as anxiety, depression, or stress can influence the prognosis of chronic pelvic pain. Addressing psychological distress through counseling, support groups, or other interventions may improve coping mechanisms and overall well-being.
  • Patient Compliance and Adherence: Patient compliance with treatment recommendations, adherence to lifestyle modifications, and participation in self-care strategies can impact treatment outcomes and prognosis. Engaging in regular physical therapy exercises, practicing relaxation techniques, and following dietary recommendations may contribute to symptom management and functional improvement.
  • Presence of Complications: Complications such as urinary tract infections, sexual dysfunction, or psychological disorders can complicate the management of chronic pelvic pain and may affect the prognosis. Prompt recognition and management of complications are essential for optimizing outcomes.
  • Chronicity of Symptoms: The duration and severity of pelvic pain symptoms can influence the prognosis. Individuals with longstanding, severe, or refractory symptoms may face greater challenges in achieving symptom relief and functional improvement.
  • Multidisciplinary Approach: Collaboration among healthcare providers from various specialties, including urology, gastroenterology, pain management, physical therapy, and psychology, can enhance the prognosis by addressing the diverse aspects of chronic pelvic pain and providing comprehensive care.

Overall, while chronic pelvic pain in men can be a complex and challenging condition to manage, many individuals can experience significant improvements in symptoms and quality of life with appropriate diagnosis and treatment. It’s important for individuals affected by CPP to work closely with healthcare providers to develop an individualized treatment plan and to maintain open communication regarding treatment goals, expectations, and concerns. With ongoing support and management, many individuals can achieve meaningful improvements in pelvic pain symptoms and overall well-being over time.


CPP in men refers to persistent or recurrent discomfort or pain in the lower abdominal region, pelvis, and genital area lasting for at least three to six months. It can have multiple underlying causes, including conditions like chronic prostatitis, pelvic floor dysfunction, and interstitial cystitis, among others. Diagnosis often involves a comprehensive evaluation, including medical history, physical examination, and possibly imaging or other tests. Treatment approaches may include medications, physical therapy, behavioral therapies, lifestyle modifications, and in some cases, interventional procedures or surgery. Managing chronic pelvic pain in men can be complex, and outcomes vary depending on factors such as the underlying cause, treatment response, and individual factors. Overall, a multidisciplinary approach focused on addressing the physical, psychological, and social aspects of the condition is essential for improving symptoms and quality of life.

Prof. Dr. Emin ÖZBEK


Istanbul- TURKEY

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