Chronic prostatitis and comorbid non-urological overlapping pain conditions: A co-twin control study

J Psychosom Res. 2017 Nov;102:29-33. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2017.09.005. Epub 2017 Sep 6.


Objectives: Chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS) is characterized by pain and voiding symptoms in the absence of an obvious infection or other cause. CP/CPPS frequently occurs with non-urological chronic overlapping pain conditions (COPCs) of unknown etiology. We conducted a co-twin control study in men discordant for chronic prostatitis (CP), an overarching diagnosis of which approximately 90% is CP/CPPS. The primary aim was to investigate the contribution of familial factors, including shared genetic and common environmental factors, to the comorbidity of CP and COPCs.

Methods: Data from 6824 male twins in the Vietnam Era Twin Registry were examined to evaluate the association between self-reported lifetime physician diagnosis of CP with COPCs including fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, temporomandibular disorder, tension headaches, and migraine headaches. Random effects logistic regression models were used and within-pair analyses evaluated confounding effects of familial factors on the associations.

Results: There were significant associations between CP and all 6 examined COPCs. After adjusting for shared familial influences in within twin pair analyses, the associations for all COPCs diminished but remained significant. Familial confounding was strongest for the association of CP with fibromyalgia and temporomandibular disorder and smallest for irritable bowel syndrome.

Conclusions: CP and COPCs are highly comorbid. These associations can be partially explained by familial factors. The mechanisms underlying these relationships are likely diverse and multifactorial. Future longitudinal research can help to further elucidate specific genetic and environmental mechanisms and determine potentially causal relationships between CP and its comorbidities.

Keywords: Chronic fatigue syndrome; Chronic pelvic pain syndrome; Chronic prostatitis; Comorbidity; Discordant twins; Fibromyalgia; Irritable bowel syndrome; Lower urinary tract symptoms; Migraine headaches; Temporomandibular joint disorder; Twin research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease
  • Chronic Pain / epidemiology*
  • Comorbidity
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pelvic Pain / epidemiology*
  • Prostatitis / epidemiology*
  • Twins