Is it Interstitial Cystitis – or Something Else?

Have you been plagued by painful urination and a frequent urge to go? If so, you may have initially thought that you had a urinary tract infection. But after the routine urine culture turned up negative, you may have been diagnosed with interstitial cystitis (also known as IC). Or, if you are experiencing more pain in the bladder region without the symptoms of frequency and urgency of urination, then you may have been diagnosed with Painful Bladder Syndrome (PBS).

But is interstitial cystitis really to blame for your painful urination and frequent urges? It may be that another culprit is to blame.

Interstitial Cystitis – the Diagnosis for Underlying Conditions Not Easily Diagnosed

Interstitial cystitis is defined according to the Urology Care Foundation as a condition lasting more than 6 weeks that includes the following symptoms:

-Pain or pressure in the region of the bladder

-Lower urinary tract symptoms (such as frequent urination or an urgent need to empty the bladder)

-Lack of infection or any other evident cause of the condition

Essentially, interstitial cystitis is a diagnosis for when there is no obvious diagnosis for your doctor to give.

What Might Really Be Behind Interstitial Cystitis? 

At Zipper Urogynecology, we are deeply interested in the pelvic health and wellness of our patients. Many women that make an appointment with us have been suffering with painful urination, discomfort in the pelvic region, frequent bladder urges, and other conditions for years. Often, doctors haven’t been able to pinpoint an underlying condition, or the prescribed treatment course has failed to produce complete or lasting relief.

In our more than 20 years of experience, we have seen many women that have been incorrectly diagnosed with Interstitial Cystitis – or, in other words, doctors couldn’t pinpoint why they were experiencing bladder pain and discomfort, so IC became the default diagnosis.

There are a variety of conditions that can cause the symptoms similar to those of interstitial cystitis. If you are coming to see us at Zipper Urogyn because you’ve been diagnosed with IC, then our goal is make your feel better. This often occurs after identifying the real culprit.

The following conditions could potentially be responsible for the pain, urgency, and frequency that you are facing:

-Pelvic Floor Dysfuntion

Myofacial Pain Syndrome or Pelvic Floor Tension Myalgia

-Recurring Urinary Tract Infection

-Detrouser Overactivity

-Other inflammatory conditions, including IBS and Diverticulitis

Each of these conditions can affect the normal function of the bladder’s filling and emptying and may cause pain in the pelvic region – all symptoms also associated with IC.

We will evaluate you for the most likely causes of your symptoms, and some that might even be less likely. The point is to thoroughly rule out any other diagnoses before moving forward with a diagnosis of exclusion, Interstitial Cystitis.

Treating Interstitial Cystitis

If testing doesn’t turn up any other causes for your bladder and pelvic woes, then we’ll look at treatment options for interstitial cystitis. Our treatment plan always begins with education first. Understanding the bladder’s function is key to understanding how to improve the symptoms. We welcome any questions you may have. Patient understanding and involvement is key to any successful treatment plan!

Several medications used in combination have also proven to be helpful in lessening the pain, urgency, and frequency of urination associated with interstitial cystitis. Medications instilled into the bladder itself have also proven to be of benefit to many IC sufferers. Receiving the treatment is as simple as sitting back in a chair for a 15-minute therapy session once per week, or every other week.

Other treatment options may include pelvic floor physiotherapy to target the muscles associated with pelvic spasm. Less commonly utilized approaches to IC treatment may be explored if the foregoing prove to be less than effective for your situation. These may include Botox injections, nerve stimulation, or hydrodistention of the bladder.

As always, our goal for treatment is to begin with the approach most likely to produce improvement for you and your specific symptoms.

Getting to the Bottom of Interstitial Cystitis

Whether your condition proves to be Interstitial Cystitis or another pelvic health problem that has been successfully dodging your doctor, we’ll work to free you from the pain, frequency, and urgency plaguing your bladder!