To assess the frequency of use of different treatments and pain management strategies and their perceived helpfulness in male patients with pelvic pain.
Approximately 1 month after a health maintenance oganization visit for pelvic pain, 286 men (mean age 46.7 years) completed telephone interviews about their symptoms and treatments and pain management strategies used in the past year. Participants rated the helpfulness of each treatment and strategy used on 0 to 10 scales.
Even though men with identified bacterial etiology were excluded from the study, antibiotic medication was the most commonly reported treatment (67% of patients) and rated as the second most helpful treatment [mean (SD) = 6.3 (3.6)]. Opiates were rated as the most helpful treatment on average [mean (SD) = 7.9 (2.1)], but were used by only 12% of patients. Substantial minorities of patients reported several behaviors as helpful, including urinating (reported as helpful by 26%), taking warm baths (23%), and drinking water (23%), although patterns of effects differed for men with versus without urinary symptoms. Activities most commonly reported as worsening symptoms were sitting (42%), walking/jogging (27%), and sexual activity (25%).
Patients with male pelvic pain syndrome are commonly prescribed antibiotics, which they perceive as moderately helpful, despite the lack of scientific evidence of efficacy. Clinicians may find it useful to support patient use of safe, inexpensive, self-management approaches, especially warm baths, increased water intake, and avoidance of prolonged sitting.