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Pelvic Pain In Males

Alternate Names

  • lower abdominal pain
  • abdominal cramping
  • Male genitourinary system

Definition

Pelvic pain refers to any pain or discomfort in the lower abdomen.

What is going on in the body?

Pelvic pain in males is often related to the intestines or urinary tract. Psychological factors can make the pain seem worse, or even cause a sensation of pain where no physical problem exists.
Pelvic pain can range from mild discomfort or cramping, to severe, intense pain. This pain may be acute, when it occurs suddenly, or chronic, when the pain lasts for a long period of time.

Risks

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

Pelvic pain in males has many causes, including:
  • pelvic adhesions, which are fibrous bands that hold together parts that are usually separate
  • sexually transmitted infections, such as gonorrhea or chlamydia
  • peritonitis, an inflammation of the lining of the abdominal cavity, usually caused by an infection
  • urinary tract infection
  • prostate inflammation or infection, such as acute prostatitis
  • infection of the urethra
  • hernia, a bulging of internal organs or tissues through an abnormal opening in the muscle wall
  • testicular torsion, that is, twisting of the testicles
  • epididymitis, that is, inflammation of the tubes that drain the testicles
  • colon cancer
  • diverticulosis, in which small sacs form in the walls of the intestines
  • irritable bowel syndrome, a disorder of the gastrointestinal tract
  • gastroenteritis, that is, infection in the digestive tract
  • kidney stone
  • abscess, or pus pocket
  • appendicitis, the inflammation of the appendix
  • muscular skeletal disorders, such as a shifting of the pelvic bones
  • psychological factors like stress
Other causes are also possible. In some cases, the cause is never found.

Prevention

What can be done to prevent the condition?

Prevention of pelvic pain may or may not be possible, depending on the cause. For example, practicing safer sex may decrease the risk of epididymitis. Early treatment for infection of the genital tract is important in decreasing the risk of pelvic pain.

Diagnosed

How is the condition diagnosed?

Diagnosis of pelvic pain begins with a history and physical exam. Tests that may be done include:
  • a urinalysis and urine culture to rule out an infection or kidney stone
  • a complete blood count, or CBC, to help diagnose an infection
  • x-ray imaging, such as ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI scan

Long Term Effects

What are the long-term effects of the condition?

Long-term effects are related to the cause of the pelvic pain. For example, irritable bowel syndrome may make a person uncomfortable and even depressed, but poses no serious long-term health risks. A small kidney stone may pass by itself and have no long-term effects. A large kidney stone may require surgery to remove it.
Appendicitis and cancer may lead to death if treatment is unsuccessful. If untreated, testicular torsion can lead to the loss of the testicle and increase the risk of infertility.

Other Risks

What are the risks to others?

Pelvic pain itself is not contagious and poses no risk to others. If the cause is an infection, such as gonorrhea, the infection may be contagious.

Treatments

What are the treatments for the condition?

Treatment for pelvic pain depends on the cause of the pain. Treatment may include:
  • antibiotics
  • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (i.e., Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (i.e., Naprosyn, Aleve, Anaprox, Naprelan)
  • pain medication
  • surgery
  • relaxation exercises
  • physical therapy

Side Effects

What are the side effects of the treatments?

Side effects of treatments depend on the treatment used for the pelvic pain. There may be stomach upset, diarrhea, or allergic reaction to antibiotics. There may be stomach upset, ulcers and bleeding, or allergic reaction to NSAIDs. Surgery can be complicated by bleeding, infection, and reactions to anesthesia.

After Treatment

What happens after treatment for the condition?

What happens after treatment depends on the success of the treatment and the cause. For example, a person who passes a kidney stone or has it removed may not need any further treatment. Someone with cancer may need long-term treatment for the cancer and may die if treatment is unsuccessful.

Monitor

How is the condition monitored?

Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare professional. Other monitoring depends on the cause of the pelvic pain.

Sources

Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, Fauci et al, 1998

The Merck Manual of Medical Information, 1997

Professional Guide to Diseases, 1998

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