What is Pelvic Pain Awareness Month?
Did you know that May is Pelvic Pain Awareness month? If not, that is ok. It was only last year (2017) that the International Pelvic Pain Society designated May to raising awareness around male and female pelvic pain. This is a very, very good thing and it needs a lot more press and awareness to make it what it could be. I guess that is the purpose behind an awareness campaign – to publicise and mobilise for action. So as a patient suffering with Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome (CPPS) or Chronic Prostatitis (CP) what would you like to see? As a therapist who sees patients with CPPS and CP what would you like out of this awareness month?
Sadly there is not enough press about Male Pelvic Pain. It doesn’t have the coverage which it deserves. It seems to be tossed (no pun intended here) to the bottom (or here!) of the pile of men’s health conditions. Prostate Cancer has seen a meteoric rise in awareness in the past decade and rightly so. There has been a significant shift in awareness, treatment, celebrity support (here and here) and even an increase in UK funding towards research (here). There is far more openness, honesty and frank patient accounts of their ordeal with Prostate Cancer (here) As a male in his 40’s this is very comforting for me to read/see. I wish the same could be said for male pelvic pain…
What would I want from upcoming Pelvic Pain Awareness Months?
Good question, thanks for asking. Well, I think the first thing to do is to simply get us chaps talking about it more openly. Pain is a normal human experience. Very normal. There is not one part of the body that is exclusive from experiencing pain. Although the pelvis is probably at the top of the list of locations that you would not want to have it! I have patients claim they would chew my right (or left) arm off to have pain anywhere else in the body. Talking about ‘pain down there’ could be perceived as taboo at the best of times! I totally, totally get this too. As someone who suffered with acute and chronic pelvic pain I know only too well how this feels (read here and here). However, as Bob Hoskins once said “it is good to talk.” It won’t change the world overnight but it might start making the population aware that men can suffer with pelvic pain too. It has been suggested that 35-50% (Kreiger 2008, Pavone-Macaluso 2007) of all males will suffer with some form of pelvic pain symptoms in their lifetime. If this is the case then surely we need to have more awareness around the condition then?!
I have treated a number of very well recognised members of society and celebrities over the years. I have asked each one if they would mind sharing their stories about their pelvic pain experiences. Sadly, for various reasons they always decline. I think there is a significant level of embarrassment associated with male pelvic pain. It is more sociable acceptable for women to suffer with pelvic pain but not us chaps! Why is this?!
Male Pelvic Pain could undoubtably, hands down benefit from even a fraction of the awareness and support that Prostate Cancer has. At present there is very little funding into research and treatments for CPPS and CP (although MAPP – are doing a great job to change this.) As a result of this most medical treatment protocols have been left in the last century (here) . Patients are very, very confused about the onset, contributing factors, management and recovery from CPPS and CP. This has to stop!
Support groups for CPPS/CP and HF
Between this and the next Pelvic Pain Awareness Month I aim to set up a number of face to face support groups for men suffering with pelvic pain. I want to have one for CPPS/CP and one for HF. I will aim to have guest speakers at periodic meetings to add further gravitas and value to participants. I have run these in the past and the feedback from all was very encouraging. I will ask Prostate Cancer Uk to promote and support these groups and as a result look to raise awareness about these conditions. It won’t change the world but it might help to get us chaps talking more openly around what we are having to suffer with behind closed doors.
What does the future for Pelvic Pain Awareness Month hold for you?
What do you want for future Pelvic Pain Awareness Months? What should be happening globally and locally? How can we as therapists and patients make a change?
Karl Monahan is the owner of The Pelvic Pain Clinic, London. He has been successfully treating male pelvic pain since 2009. His depth of knowledge and personal experience on the subject provides his patients with a compassionate approach that is rarely found. His holistic approach to treating male pelvic pain addresses, lifestyle, diet, exercise, stress management and therapeutic movement. The clinics approach is very much aimed at empowering the patient, teaching them the tools and techniques to manage and reduce their own symptoms allowing them to be the driver in their own recovery and not just a passenger. www.thepelvicpainclinic.co.uk