Pelvic health isn’t just for women. We see men of all ages too! If you’re a man with pelvic pain or if you know one, listen up!
We’re talking about prostatitis - a catch all word for inflammation of the prostate. The prostate is a male reproductive organ located just underneath the bladder that contributes to semen production, and also helps keep men continent (no leakage). When the prostate becomes inflamed it can cause symptoms of:
Slow urine stream
Difficulty emptying the bladder
A “headache” inside the pelvis
Prostatitis is categorized into four major groups:
Acute Bacterial occurs when you get sudden onset of bacterial infection. This could be from a UTI or STI. Chronic Bacterial still has some kind of infection present, but it keeps returning after medical treatment. The illness is categorized as Chronic Nonbacterial when the symptoms are still present, but there is no infection to be found. In patients with Asymptomatic Inflammatory Prostatitis, the prostate is inflamed but the patient has no symptoms of pain or urinary dysfunction.
Medical management often includes antibiotics that may clear the original infection. However, a lot of men will have a return in symptoms even with repeated antibiotic use.
Once you have had symptoms for longer than three months and there is no infection present, it is considered Chronic Nonbacterial Prostatitis. Also called Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome (CPPS), prescription medication alone will not solve your problem.
When we have pain in one area for a long time the muscles, nerves, blood vessels and fascia respond by getting tighter and more sensitive. Imagine all the tissues around the prostate being on “high alert” because there has been pain and inflammation around them for so long. Our muscles and nerves are not meant to live in this “fight or flight” state and over time, they start to generate their own levels of pain.
This means that in the beginning of your symptoms the cause may have been the prostate itself. But now, the prostate is healed but the tissues around it have not recovered. Antibiotics will have no effect on your muscles and nerves, but PTs/OTs are neuromuscular experts.
Things that we can help with:
Addressing tight muscles in the pelvic floor + abdomen
Improving back and hip mobility
Nutrition and bowel function
And did we say stress management?
This is not a hopeless condition. The research gives us plenty of ways to take control over CPPS.
1. Exercise: any type you like, in moderate to vigorous intensity, averaging two hours per week. Even a daily brisk walk can help!
2. Diet: Limit caffeine and alcohol, and foods high in sugar. Foods found to be helpful include berries, citrus fruits, cruciferous vegetables, pumpkin seeds, nuts, salmon, garlic and onions.
3. Supplements: Some research shows over the counter supplements have properties that protect the prostate. Some include pumpkin seed oil, Certilin (pollen extract), and Quercetin. Talk with your doctor before trying these, as they could interfere with certain prescription medications.
4. Mental health: Stress plays a MAJOR role in managing chronic pain. Find a therapist who can give you tools to manage life with chronic pain. Our brains, after all, are the ones running the show