Male pelvic pain can be a mix of uncomfortable, scary and embarrassing. And sometimes it can be hard to get a clear diagnosis or effective treatment. That’s because there are a number of underlying causes, and sometimes the pain is related to male anatomy and in other cases the cause may be a condition that can affect anyone.
As awkward as it may be to talk about male pelvic pain, it’s important to know a little about it, especially if you or someone you care about is experiencing it. So what is pelvic pain when it affects men? Simply put, it’s any kind of pain that’s experienced around your lower abdomen, buttocks, genitourinary organs or tailbone. Clearly, the most notable symptom is pain, but often there are other symptoms that may offer helpful clues as to what’s going on. For example, pain after urination, a bowel movement or ejaculation; constipation; bladder frequency or erectile dysfunction are all signs that may help in diagnosing the source of your pain.
There are a number of underlying causes of pelvic pain in men. They include:
This is a condition of inflammation or infection of your prostate gland. Chronic prostatitis is caused by inflammation of the gland, while an infection can cause an acute episode. Not only does prostatitis cause pain, but it can also cause problems with urination or sexual function.
Enlargement of the prostate
Called prostatic hyperplasia, your prostate gland can become enlarged from prostatitis, a condition called benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH) or from prostate cancer. An enlarged prostate gland can cause pain, bladder problems, or no symptoms at all.
A hernia is an opening in a muscle that allows underlying tissue to poke through. The most common types of hernias that produce pelvic pain in men include an inguinal hernia and a femoral hernia, both of which occur in the groin area, and in some cases, an umbilical hernia that affects the area around your navel.
Not only is this incredibly painful, but it is also a true medical emergency. Testicular torsion is a condition in which the testicle rotates and cuts off the blood supply to the scrotum. If you experience sudden and severe pain and swelling in your scrotum, contact your doctor immediately. Delaying care for this condition could result in the loss of the affected testicle.
Male Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome
Also called chronic nonbacterial prostatitis, this is one of the most common causes of pelvic pain in men. It can also be frustrating and hard to diagnose. That’s because the pain may come and go and diagnosing it is often based on excluding a host of other causes.
In addition to the above causes, pelvic pain in men can be caused by conditions that affect both men and women alike. This includes urinary tract infections, kidney stones, muscle strains or pulls, appendicitis, sexually transmitted infections and lower digestive problems.
Treating Pelvic Pain in Men
At BodaHealth, we refer exercise physiologist Chris Munn for effective treatment strategies to help men who are experiencing pelvic pain. Chris is extensively trained and experienced in a number of therapies that can help provide effective pain relief. Once such therapy that research has found to be particularly effective in treating chronic nonbacterial prostatitis is shockwave therapy. This is a pulsed acoustic wave, which is alternating high and low pressure applied from outside the body to a targeted area. At BodaHealth, we have found shockwave therapy to be an effective way to a great many of our patients who are experiencing pain.
In working with men with pelvic pain, Chris is also likely to prescribe therapeutic exercises or remedial massage. He’s found that in many cases correctly prescribed exercise, including pelvic floor exercises, and movement therapy can be very effective in relieving pain and restoring function. Research from the Canadian Physiotherapy Association has found that therapeutic exercise can help reduce or relieve the symptoms of chronic prostatitis by working to correct imbalances in the muscles around the hips, abdomen and those of the pelvic floor. This is done through prescribed exercises and movement to help stretch and strengthen the affected muscles. In addition, for conditions such as prostatitis, therapy can help relax the muscles of the pelvic floor to prevent them from going into protective spasm, which can aggravate an already painful condition.
Chris may also use manual therapy and massage as a way to restore normal movement and overcome muscle or neural restrictions. He also incorporates yoga, Pilates, cold laser therapy, Thai massage, breathing and mindfulness into his therapeutic sessions, as needed. Chris’s sessions are always tailored to each client’s individual needs and specific diagnosis.
Pelvic pain is not only uncomfortable and limiting to your daily activities, but it can also be hard to talk about and a source of worry. At BodaHealth our caring and committed practitioners are here to help by providing a wide array of natural treatment options. If you or a man that you care about is experiencing pelvic pain, please contact us today to find out how we can help.
Dr. Jeda Boughton is a Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Registered Acupuncturist in Vancouver. She is also a Registered Herbologist and the founder of BodaHealth.