Why would a man have pelvic pain?
I’m actually going to answer this question right away. Just like women, men have a pelvis and a pelvic floor which means that dysfunction can occur at this area which could cause pain. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s look at this in more detail to help you understand further.
In today’s post, we’re going to be looking at how musculoskeletal issues can cause male pelvic pain. But just know that pelvic pain can be caused by other issues such as infection, hernia, etc. If you have pelvic pain, talk to your doctor to rule out anything that would require medical attention.
Chronic pelvic pain in men can be really debilitating. Pelvic pain can limit your ability to engage in physical activities, it can impact your sex life, and it can be emotionally draining.
From my experience working in the pelvic health field, I know that people experiencing pelvic pain can feel alone and lost. I also know that men tend to experience these feelings even more than women on average. I think this may be because pelvic health for females is finally becoming more well known and talked about but for males it still isn’t talked about enough.
I’m writing this post today to help men understand what could be happening in regards to their pelvic floor and to let you guys know that you’re not alone! There are definitely other men out there experiencing pelvic pain and who are probably experiencing similar symptoms to you.
What does a musculoskeletal issue mean?
A musculoskeletal issue is an issue that stems from areas of the body such as your muscles, ligaments, or joints. In regards to male pelvic pain, this most commonly means that there is an issue with the pelvic floor muscles. (We’ll get more into what these muscles are later in this post.)
To keep things simple, we’re going to refer to this cause of pelvic pain as pelvic floor dysfunction.
If you’ve been diagnosed with pelvic floor dysfunction, know that it’s a broad term and sounds scarier than it is, but it’s a good way to label what we’re talking about here. It basically means either the pelvic floor muscles are tight or weak or that you have difficulty with muscle coordination. It’s pretty similar to saying that you have a hamstring dysfunction if your hamstrings were either really tight or really weak or if you had trouble relaxing them. I think when you put it this way it sounds less scary right?
Possible symptoms associated with male chronic pelvic pain
Below is a list of symptoms that men with chronic pelvic pain related to pelvic floor dysfunction may experience. These symptoms can also be related to other issues which is why it’s important to see your doctor to rule out medical causes.
- Pain in the penis, testes, or rectum
- Pain in the lower abdominal region
- Urinary frequency
- Difficulty initiating a urine stream
- Pain with urination or bowel movement
- Pain with sex
- Erectile dysfunction
What is the pelvic floor and how does it relate to pelvic pain in men?
Men, you have a pelvic floor just like women. While there are some differences based on our anatomy, your pelvic floor is very similar to women. I have seen male clients with pelvic pain that have been told by a healthcare practitioner that pelvic floor issues are a “female” problem. This couldn’t be further from the truth! Pelvic floor issues can happen in any gender since we all have pelvic floors! So if you have been told this myth, please seek guidance from another practitioner.
The pelvic floor is a sling of muscles running from your pubic bone to your tail bone. These muscles support organs such as the bladder, the prostate, and the rectum. This is why some of the symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction may be related to the bladder and bowel. The pelvic floor muscles not only support these organs, they are also responsible for allowing urine and stool to pass through.
The pelvic floor muscles, like any other muscle of the body can become tight or weak. Typically, when a male experiences pelvic pain due to a musculoskeletal issue, it’s usually accompanied by tight pelvic floor muscles.
I know it may be surprising to hear but erectile dysfunction (ED) can sometimes be due to a pelvic floor muscle issue as well. Basically, the pelvic floor muscles are responsible for pumping blood into the penis for an erection. If the pelvic floor muscles are really weak, they may not have the strength to maintain an erection. The opposite can also cause an issue. If the pelvic floor muscles are too tight, they can also cause ED. This is because if the muscles are tight and being held in a shortened state, they may not be able to relax enough to allow the full muscle contraction that is needed to pump blood into the penis for an erection.
So basically, pelvic floor dysfunction can cause issues related to bladder, bowel, or sexual function and can cause pelvic pain. A pelvic physical therapist is a great person to see to determine what is going on with your pelvic muscles in order to determine what type of treatment will be most beneficial for you.
Other common issues related to male pelvic floor dysfunction
From my experience, I have noticed that men who have pelvic pain tend to have a lot muscle tightness in surrounding areas to the pelvic floor as well.
This is from my experience not research but I would say the most common area of tightness other than the pelvic floor with male pelvic pain is the psoas muscle. The psoas muscle is a hip flexor meaning it lifts your leg up. Although it’s a hip muscle, you have to remember that the hip and pelvis connect together to form your hip joint, so they are closely related. The muscle belly of the psoas is actually located in the lower abdomen region. When the psoas is tight it can refer pain to the pelvic region. In cases like this, things like manual therapy and stretching of the psoas muscle can be very helpful in decreasing pain.
Other common areas of tightness include the hip adductors (inner thigh muscles), the glutes, and the suprapubic region (lower abdominal region).
I’ve created a free guide consisting of 3 yoga poses to help relax common areas of tightness associated with male pelvic pain. Click here to get your guide now!
Through this post I hope you were able to learn and better understand male chronic pelvic pain.
If you are suffering from pelvic pain, there are professionals out there who specialize in this and who can help you. Please don’t suffer in silence, you deserve to feel like your best self and not to be weighed down by pelvic pain. There is help out there for you!