Interstitial cystitis is a common condition that can affect people of all ages. However, twice as many women have it compared to men, so they’re more familiar with the bladder pain and urinary frequency. The doctors at UroGyn Specialists of Florida diagnose and treat interstitial cystitis at our office locations in Orlando, Lake Mary, and Kissimmee, Florida. If you experience bladder or pelvic pain, schedule an appointment so we can help you find symptom relief.
What is interstitial cystitis?
Interstitial cystitis is also known as painful bladder syndrome, which gives a vivid image of the chronic condition. It causes urinary symptoms that range from mild bladder discomfort and pressure to intense pain, often coupled with urinary frequency and urgency. You may have just a few of the symptoms, or all of them, to varying degrees.
Severe cases of interstitial cystitis take a toll on quality of life, when women can’t leave home or exercise due to pain and constantly needing to use the bathroom. For many, having sex is painful, so it affects the quality of their relationships.
What symptoms will you experience?
When the bladder is working normally, it fills up with urine, then you feel the need to urinate. When you have interstitial cystitis, it doesn’t work the way it should and you end up with:
Urgency: A strong urge to urinate is normal if you haven’t gone to the bathroom for a few hours, or when you’ve been drinking a lot of fluids. When you have interstitial cystitis, you feel an urgent need to urinate, often along with burning and pain, before your bladder is full.
Frequency: People with interstitial cystitis have a strong, painful urge to urinate a lot more often than normal.
Bladder pain: When a normal bladder is full, you feel some discomfort that makes you go to the bathroom. If you have interstitial cystitis, you feel pain, not just discomfort, and it starts while the bladder is still nearly empty. The pain continues to get worse until you urinate. Some people with interstitial cystitis have bladder pain that goes away for a few weeks or months, then returns.
Pain during sex: Pain related to interstitial cystitis may be caused by a muscle spasm of the pelvic floor muscles, which support the bladder, bowel, and uterus. This spasm may get worse during sex.
How is interstitial cystitis treated?
The experts don’t yet know the cause of interstitial cystitis; they also don’t have one treatment that works for everyone. Your doctor at UroGyn Specialists of Florida will work with you to create an individualized treatment plan. Depending on your needs, it may include lifestyle changes, bladder training, physical therapy, or medication.
When other treatments don’t help, your doctor may consider minimally-invasive procedures that offer temporary relief, such as bladder distension and bladder instillation. Major surgery to enlarge the bladder may be considered for some patients.