Interstitial cystitis, or painful bladder syndrome, is a chronic condition
Interstitial cystitis causes chronic bladder inflammation and irritation. This irritation causes the bladder to become stiff and unable to properly expand when it becomes full of urine, leading to frequency, urgency, pressure and discomfort.
No one has been able to determine the exact cause of interstitial cystitis, but researchers and physicians have found certain factors put women at higher risk for developing this condition.
- Being female: More women than men develop this condition.
- Age. Women over age 30 are more prone to interstitial cystitis.
- Certain medical conditions: Women who have chronic disorders such as IBS or fibromyalgia have a higher risk.
- Complexion: Women with fair skin or red hair are more likely to develop this condition.
What are the symptoms of interstitial cystitis?
When the bladder walls stiffen due to interstitial cystitis, it prevents the brain from receiving the normal signals that indicate the bladder is full. Due to these inaccurate brain signals, women with interstitial cystitis experience:
- Pain in the pelvic region and/or the area between the anus and the vagina
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Pain that occurs as urine fills the bladder
- A frequent urge to urinate, with little urine production each time.
How is the condition diagnosed and treated?
In addition to obtaining a medical history and performing a pelvic examination, our physicians may order a urine sample and perform one or more tests. They may also ask a woman to keep a bladder diary that details when and how much she urinates, as well as when and how much fluid she drinks.
There is no cure for interstitial cystitis, but our Fort Worth and Grapevine ObGyns may recommend one or more treatments, including dietary changes, physical therapy, nerve stimulation or medications. In some cases, a woman may require surgery.
How can women cope with their symptoms?
Our ObGyns recommend that women with interstitial cystitis make several changes to improve their quality of life. These suggestions include:
- Stop smoking. Our physicians can recommend methods to help stop this habit that can further irritate symptoms.
- Experiment with dietary changes. Certain foods and beverages, such as chocolate, caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods, carbonated drinks and citrus may irritate interstitial cystitis symptoms. Women can determine what bothers them by eliminating foods and drinks one at a time from their daily diet.
- Pursue bladder training. Our ObGyns can explain the process of training oneself to urinate less often and at scheduled times.