Interstitial Cystitis (IC) is an umbrella terminology for a group of symptoms within the pelvic region and for the most part a complicated condition. IC can be chronic or intermittent, it affects both males and females although females are affected more than males. While the bulk of attention tends to be on the bladder, there are other structures/organs in the pelvic region that are also affected such as bowels, uterus, muscles of the pelvic bowl etc. Perhaps a more appropriate terminology for IC is Painful Bladder syndrome (PBS) or Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome (CPPS) since chronic bladder/pelvic pain is one of the hallmarks of IC.
Signs and Symptoms of PBS/IC/CPPS
- Urinary frequency and urgency
- Suprapubic pain
- Feeling of pressure/discomfort
- Pelvic pain
- Pain during intercourse
- Vulva pain
- Pain during urination
- Perineal pain
- Reduced urinary stream in men
- Pain/discomfort in the tip of the penis
- Painful ejaculation
- Pain/ache/sensitivity in the testicles
- Groin pain
- Incomplete urination
- Recurrent prostatitis that does not respond to treatment
Possible causes of PBS/IC/CPPS
- Bladder infection
- Trauma (surgical, physical, emotional or sexual)
- Viral illness
- Spasm in the pelvic region – chronic tension
- Neurologic inflammation/Neurological windup
It is not uncommon for people with PBS/IC/CPPS at one point or another to experience recurrent bladder infections, endometriosis, irritable bowel syndrome, migraine headaches, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, constipation, vulvodynia, depression and anxiety. It is mostly likely that PBS/IC is an inflammatory condition that is worsened with stress/anxiety. In addition there is a high amount of tension/tightness in the muscles of the pelvic floor which further contributes to the pain/discomfort. In a small percentage of people, there are small pin point ulcerations (Hunner’s ulcers) in the bladder wall. Some individuals have noticed that certain foods can trigger a flare up that takes days to weeks to subdue.
Conventional medicine alone has very little to offer patients that are suffering from this condition because it can involve so many organs/structures. However a combination of modalities in addition to conventional medicine can enable people to lead a more normal life.
What challenges have you encountered with this condition?