Purpose: Little is known about the natural history of nonbacterial prostatitis/male pelvic pain syndrome, the transition from acute to chronic pelvic pain and risk factors for chronicity. In this study we determined the course of symptoms after physician visits for new nonbacterial prostatitis/pelvic pain syndrome episodes, and determined predictors of symptom persistence 1 year later.
Materials and methods: A total of 286 male health maintenance organization enrollees (87% white, mean age 46.7 years, 83% completed the 12-month followup) with recent physician visits for new prostatitis/pelvic pain episodes completed baseline, and 3, 6 and 12-month followup telephone interviews, including the National Institutes of Health Chronic Prostatitis Symptom Index in a prospective longitudinal inception cohort study.
Results: On average symptoms improved substantially during months 1 to 3, modestly from months 3 to 6 and then remained unchanged. At each followup outcomes were better for men whose initial visit was for a first lifetime episode compared with a recurrent prostatitis/pelvic pain episode. Patients with more severe symptoms (Wald chi-square 11.27, p = 0.0008) and whose episode was recurrent (OR 2.2, 95% CI 1.16 to 4.06) at baseline were significantly more likely to report symptoms 1 year later.
Conclusions: Most men who make physician visits for new nonbacterial prostatitis/pelvic pain episodes experience symptom improvement during the next 6 months. However, chronic, mild, persistent or recurrent symptoms are common. Patients with previous episodes and more severe symptoms are at higher risk for chronic pelvic pain.