IBS and Prostatitis or Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome

Overlapping Conditions for Men

Some men may experience chronic prostatitis, also known as chronic pelvic pain syndrome, (CP/CPPS), alongside irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). They are two different conditions but they do have some common features. The overlap is a good reason to discuss all of your symptoms with your healthcare provider. Here is a brief overview of CP/CPPS, with some information as to how it might relate to IBS.

A man clutching his abdomen because of IBS discomfort
Jan-Otto / Getty Images

What Is Prostatitis?

Prostatitis refers to health conditions related to the prostate, a gland that is part of the male reproductive system. The prostate is responsible for secreting a fluid that contributes to semen, as well as helping to squeeze semen out during the ejaculation process.

CP/CPPS is one of four types of prostatitis:

  1. Acute bacterial prostatitis
  2. Chronic bacterial prostatitis
  3. Chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS), inflammatory and non-inflammatory types
  4. Asymptomatic prostatitis (inflammation is noted, but patient reports no symptoms)

What Is CP/CPPS?

CP/CPPS is a chronic type of prostatitis, it develops and persists over a longer period of time rather than occurring suddenly. You might be diagnosed with it when your healthcare provider's comprehensive diagnostic assessment has ruled out a bacterial infection and/or the presence of other health disorders. The symptoms must be present for at least three of the last six months in order to receive a CP/CPPS diagnosis.

Symptoms of CP/CPPS

Symptoms of CP/CPPS can wax and wane over time and may include:

  • Chronic pain and/or discomfort in the pelvis, testicles, anus, rectum, and groin
  • Pain and/or discomfort when urinating or ejaculating
  • Urinary urgency
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Sexual dysfunction

Treatment of CP/CPPS

As little is known as to why people develop CP/CPPS, there is no one-size-fits-all treatment. You must work closely with your healthcare providers to develop a personalized plan for addressing your symptoms.

After ruling out and/or treating a possible infection, medications may be prescribed to help manage symptoms. Medications may include:

  • alpha blockers
  • muscle relaxants
  • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

Overlap Between CP/CPPS and IBS

Research studies have found that a large number of men experience IBS alongside CP/CPPS. Although IBS and CP/CPPS are two separate disorders, they do share some similar features:

  • Both are classified as functional disorders
  • Prevalence rates are similar
  • Higher than expected rates of comorbid mental health diagnoses
  • Higher than expected rates of past physical and sexual abuse
  • Both have a negative impact on quality of life

What Do I Do If You Have Both IBS and CP/CPPS?

Due to the high overlap rate between IBS and CP/CPPS, be sure to be open with your healthcare provider about all of your symptoms, whether they be bowel, bladder or sexual in nature. Even though talking about these particular parts of your body may feel uncomfortable.

Both disorders appear to benefit from an excellent working relationship with a healthcare provider. Your practitioner is in the best position to identify treatment options that take into account all of your symptoms.

Although as of now there is no known system-wide dysfunction that may be contributing to symptoms of both disorders, it never hurts to incorporate strategies that benefit your overall health into your life. Pain sensations can be enhanced by stress and anxiety, so it may be helpful to look into mind/body activities that ease stress and tension, such as meditation, relaxation exercises, and yoga.

3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Liao CH, Lin HC, Huang CY. Chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome is associated with irritable bowel syndrome: a population-based study. Sci Rep. 2016;6:26939. doi:10.1038/srep26939

  2. Arora HC, Eng C, Shoskes DA. Gut microbiome and chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome. Ann Transl Med. 2017;5(2):30. doi:10.21037/atm.2016.12.32

  3. Doiron RC, Nickel JC. Management of chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome. Can Urol Assoc J. 2018;12(6 Suppl 3):S161-S163. doi:10.5489/cuaj.5325

Additional Reading
  • "Prostatitis: Disorders of the Prostate" National Kidney and Urological Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC) Accessed June 12, 2011.
  • Nickel, J. "The Multidisciplinary Approach to Defining the Urologic Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndromes" Reviews in Urology 2008 10:157-159.
  • Rodriguez, M., Afari, N. & Buchwald, D. "Evidence for Overlap Between Urological and Nonurological Unexplained Clinical Conditions" The Journal of Urology 2009 182:2123-2131.
  • Vicaril, E., et.al. "High Frequency of Chronic Bacterial and Non-Inflammatory Prostatitis in Infertile Patients with Prostatitis Syndrome Plus Irritable Bowel Syndrome" PLoSone 2011 6:e18647.
  • Wagenlehner, F., et.al. "Prostatitis and Male Pelvic Pain Syndrome: Diagnosis and Treatment" Deutsches Aerzteblatt International 2009 106:175-183.

By Barbara Bolen, PhD
Barbara Bolen, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist and health coach. She has written multiple books focused on living with irritable bowel syndrome.