Interstitial cystitis, or painful bladder syndrome, is an incurable condition that causes mild to severe bladder pressure and pain, as well as pelvic pain in some cases. It affects women significantly more than men.
With interstitial cystitis, the communication from your brain to your bladder that signals your need to urinate gets jumbled, so you feel the urge to urinate more often than most people.
Symptoms Vary by Individual
The symptoms of interstitial cystitis will vary by individual and may come and go, flaring up at certain times such as during menstruation, after sitting for a long time, during stress, and after exercise or sexual activity.
Interstitial cystitis signs and symptoms include:
- In women, pain in your pelvis or between the vagina and anus
- In men, pain between the scrotum and anus
- Chronic pelvic pain
- A persistent, urgent need to urinate
- Frequent urination, often in small amounts, throughout the day and night
- Pain or discomfort while the bladder fills, and relief after urinating
- Pain during sexual intercourse
Interstitial cystitis sometimes presents as a urinary tract infection (UTI), but an infection is not detected during urinalysis.
Treatment for Incurable Disease
Although there's no cure for interstitial cystitis, medications and other therapies may offer some relief.
- Physical therapy – Working with a physical therapist can relieve pelvic pain associated with the condition.
- Medications – Anti-inflammatory drugs, tricyclic antidepressants, antihistamines, and Elmiron can help relieve symptoms.
- Nerve stimulation – Stimulating nerves with mild electrical impulses can reduce pelvic pain and urinary frequency and urgency.
- Bladder distention – Stretching the bladder by filling it with water (and, in some cases, medication) can result in temporary improvement.
- Surgery – When all other methods of treatment fail, surgery may be an option but is rarely used because of potential complications.
- Alternative medicine – Guided imagery and acupuncture have shown promise in treating the symptoms of interstitial cystitis.
If you’re experiencing the symptoms of interstitial cystitis or seem to have frequent UTIs, a Urology specialist at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic in Houston can help.