There are various refractory chronic inflammatory diseases related to the genitourinary tract, such as interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome and chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome. It has been reported that in the general population, these diseases are related to other chronic illnesses, such as irritable bowel syndrome or vulvodynia. Herein, we review papers regarding pelvic organ cross-sensitization, a factor which is considered to contribute to these relationships. Several other researchers and ourselves have reported that noxious stimuli from a diseased pelvic organ are transmitted to an adjacent normal structure via shared sensory neural pathways at the prespinal, spinal, and supraspinal levels, resulting in functional changes in the adjacent normal structure. In conclusion, since there are few treatments to cure interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome and chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome completely, further studies regarding organ cross-sensitization may provide new insights into the pathophysiology and treatment strategies for these diseases.
Keywords: bladder pain syndrome; chronic pelvic pain syndrome; chronic prostatitis; interstitial cystitis; organ cross-sensitization.