What is chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS)?

Prostatitis is inflammation of the prostate gland — a reproductive organ that sits below the bladder and makes fluid that mixes with sperm to create semen. There are different types of prostatitis and chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS) the most common, making up 80-90% of cases.

Symptoms of CP/CPPS1 vary and can include:

People with CP/CPPS have long term pain that lasts for at least three to six months.

CP/CPPS is different than acute or chronic bacterial prostatitis because there is no detectable infection, and the cause is often unknown. The variety of symptoms different men experience can make it difficult to diagnosis and treat.

What causes CP/CPPS?

The cause of CP/CPPS is usually not known. It is believed to originate from infection, injury, muscular or psychological causes.

What someone with CP/CPPS could be feeling

Diagnosing and treating CP/CPPS can take time and the symptoms can take a physical and mental toll. CP/CPPS can reduce a person’s quality of life and affect their personal relationships.

The more severe CP/CPPS is, the more likely your partner will experience pain catastrophising (dwelling on, magnifying or feeling helpless about the pain), depression, anxiety, and stress2. Common symptoms of CP/CPPS, like LUTS and erectile dysfunction, may contribute to anxiety, depression, and stress. In addition to feeling frustrated and hopeless, your partner might also feel embarrassed about dealing with a condition affecting an area that can be uncomfortable to discuss.

What you might be feeling

If your partner has CP/CPPS, it can affect both of your sexual function and satisfaction, as well as your relationship more generally3. The condition’s impact on your partner’s mental health can also affect you. It’s important to acknowledge the feelings you have about your partner’s symptoms and take care of your wellbeing too.

What you can do about CP/CPPS

If you think your partner’s CP/CPPS is affecting you, it might be good for you to speak about it with your doctor.

Although chronic pain can be difficult to treat, there are medications or other treatments (e.g., acupuncture, shockwave therapy) that might be effective4.

The psychological effects of CP/CPPS might get worse the longer it goes on5, so encouraging your partner to seek help sooner rather than later is important.

References

[1] Breser et al., 2017. Immunological mechanisms underlying chronic pelvic pain and prostate inflammation in chronic pelvic pain syndrome. Frontiers in Immunology.

[2] Huang et al., 2020. Psychological factors and pain catastrophizing in men with chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS): a meta-analysis. Translational Andrology and Urology.

[3] Smith et al, J.C., 2007. Predictors of Sexual and Relationship Functioning in Couples with Chronic Prostatitis/Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome. The Journal of Sexual Medicine.

[4] Franco et al, 2018. Non-pharmacological interventions for treating chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

[5] Mcnaughton Collins,2003. The impact of chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome on patients. World Journal of Urology.

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