Constant Pelvic Pain?
It Could Be Interstitial Cystitis.
The defining symptom of interstitial cystitis (IC) is pain. Women who suffer with the condition experience significant bladder/pelvic pain, often with urination and intercourse. Patients also feel an urgency to urinate more frequently than normal, often with very little output. Symptoms and severity vary among patients, and patients may have symptom-free intervals with periodic flare-ups. Because of these symptoms, interstitial cystitis can have a profoundly negative impact on a woman’s quality of life.
There is, however, much reason to be hopeful. While it isn’t curable, interstitial cystitis is treatable and manageable.
Misdiagnosed and Under-Diagnosed
Because the symptoms resemble a urinary tract infection (UTI), women suffering with interstitial cystitis are often misdiagnosed with UTIs. Cases of interstitial cystitis are therefore significantly under-diagnosed. It’s important to note that with interstitial cystitis, there is no infection.
While there is no known cause of the condition, there may be a number of contributing factors. Patients may have a leak in the lining of their bladder, and toxic substances may cause irritation in the bladder wall. Heredity, allergies or an autoimmune reaction may also play a role.
At Advanced GYN Solutions, we see women with interstitial cystitis every week, and we take an individualized approach to treating every patient. We often consider a combination of approaches to discover what is most effective for each patient.
In our office, treatment most often begins with an avoidance diet. Eliminating things that may irritate the bladder—often spicy and acidic foods— usually helps alleviate symptoms. Not all patients react to the same foods, so avoidance diet recommendations are individualized for each patient.
Another method is hydrodistention (or hydrodilatation) and bladder instillation, in which water is used to stretch the bladder and a medication solution is delivered directly into the bladder through a catheter. This treatment may be given weekly for a couple of months, followed up by maintenance treatments at regular intervals.
Medications can be used to treat interstitial cystitis Medications can be “instilled” directly into the bladder. Other medications work to reduce inflammation and build back the protective lining of the bladder.
In treating interstitial cystitis, we are most successful when we figure out the individual triggers so patients can learn to control the condition.
If you are having frequent urges to urinate, especially if combined with bladder or pelvic pain, please call our office at 910.509.0103 for an appointment. Dr. Robison is a double board-certified specialist in two areas of women’s health, and he has decades of experience treating a wide range of gynecological conditions, including interstitial cystitis.
March 16, 2020