The prostate, a small male gland located between the testes and the rectum, can cause a lot of problems, from prostatitis to cancer. Cancer is easy to diagnose but hard to treat; prostatitis is elusive because it has such a wide range of symptoms and no known cause. Prostatitis can cause pelvic pain, urologic concerns such as frequent urges to urinate, a weak or interrupted stream, and even blood in the urine. Sexual symptoms may include erectile dysfunction and pain during intercourse. Prostate problems may also cause irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), because the irritated prostate may in turn aggravate the nerves that affect the lower digestive tract.
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Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome, like prostatitis, has no specific cause but can be diagnosed by confirming a constellation of symptoms. These include chronic diarrhoea or constipation, or both; excess gas; abdominal or pelvic pain; and mucus or blood in the stool. IBS can be managed, but not cured. Because the large intestine and colon lie so near the prostate, IBS can irritate the prostate and other structures in the pelvic floor. Prostate symptoms can develop from IBS.
Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome (CPPS)
Just as IBS can cause prostatitis, so prostatitis can cause IBS. Chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CPPS), a long-standing and habitual tightening of the pelvic muscles due to stress, can cause both conditions. Doctors are just beginning to research CPPS as a cause for the overlapping symptoms of prostatitis and IBS. The early findings from a study by Dr. David Wise at Stanford University are that a program of stretching, massage and relaxation exercises can all be beneficial in CPPS management. Before going on medications or electing to undergo surgery, ask your doctor whether CPPS might be the cause of your discomfort.
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