Men, pelvic pain, bladder problems and infertility
Although both men and women can suffer from pelvic pain and bladder problems the underlying causes may differ but treatment approaches may be the same in both groups. Most types of pelvic pain respond well to a course of either acupuncture or gentle manipulation or a combination of both.
Pelvic pain is pain experienced in the pelvis or perineum which has lasted longer than 3 months and isn't linked to a urinary tract infection.
Symptoms may come and go and pain can range from mild discomfort to debilitating. The pain may radiate to back and rectum, making sitting difficult. Dysuria (pain on passing water), joint pains, muscle pains and aching, unexplained fatigue, abdominal pain, and frequency may all be present.
Pelvic pain can affect both males and females and there is sometimes an overlap with bladder problems. It is also called chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CPPS).
Post-ejaculatory pain (pain after intercourse) from the action of nerves and muscles, is a classic symptom of male pelvic pain and serves to distinguish pelvic pain patients from men with Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy. Some patients report low libido, sexual dysfunction and erectile difficulties as well as constant burning pain in the penis. Male pelvic pain may also be due to chronic prostatitis.
Bladder problems are common, affecting approximately 2 million men in the UK, of all ages.
The commonest symptoms are bladder pain, frequency (going to the loo very often) and nocturia (having to get up at night, often frequently) but patients are often more distressed by the depression, fatigue and anxiety that go with bladder problems. The term bladder problems describes a set of conditions including overactive bladder syndrome, irritable bladder syndrome and painful bladder syndrome. These conditions often overlap with pelvic pain problems.
Most patients respond well to 6 sessions of treatment with acupuncture and electroacupuncture, and the effects are lasting, although some people need top up or maintenance treatments from time to time. Acupuncture and nNEAP are excellent alternatives for those patients who have had little success with conventional drug treatments or who do not want to pursue a surgical route.
Bladder Problems following treatment for cancer
Many patients who have had radiotherapy to the pelvic area during their treatment for cancer will unfortunately develop some distressing symptoms due to the radiation. These can include pain, frequency and urgency. The symptoms may be substantially helped using acupuncture, and this is now widely used at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London, which is the UK's top cancer hospital.
Male hot flushes
Some men who are having hormone treatment for prostate cancer may also develop hot flushes which can be extremely disturbing. In my experience these may be helped or relieved by acupuncture.
It is worth pointing out that acupuncture has also been shown to have a beneficial effect in the treatment of male infertility or subfertility. Two studies have shown an increase in sperm count and motility, and concluded that acupuncture may be a useful nontraumatic treatment for males with very poor sperm density, especially those with a history of genital tract inflammation.
A recent study showed that 73% of patients had positive responses to acupuncture, with 40% of them showing complete resolution. No conventional intervention for pelvic pain was shown to be effective. Lee SWH et al. Acupuncture versus sham acupuncture for chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain. The American Journal of Medicine 121(1) Jan 2008
Siterman S et al,. Effect of acupuncture on sperm parameters of males suffering from subfertiity related to low sperm quality. Arch Androl 1997 39(2);155-61