Interstitial cystitis, or bladder pain syndrome, is a condition that causes chronic pain or pressure on the bladder. The signals that normally tell your brain that your bladder is full and needs to be emptied get mixed up.
This results in more frequent urges to urinate and trips to the bathroom that results in smaller volumes of urine. The pain associated with the condition and the nuisance of feeling the need to urinate frequently can mean a decreased quality of life.
The condition is quite common. According to the Interstitial Cystitis Association, an estimated 3 million to 8 million women in the United States, about 3%-6% of all American women, have interstitial cystitis. With men, the numbers are 1 million to 4 million. The condition is certainly more prevalent than you might think.
The expert urologists here at Urology Center of Florida have compiled this helpful guide to help you recognize the signs and symptoms of interstitial cystitis, so that you know when to seek treatment.
Symptoms of interstitial cystitis
Interstitial cystitis symptoms typically vary based on the individual. However, the pain that’s associated with the condition is usually worsened by prolonged periods of certain activities.
For example, flare-ups are associated with increased periods of sitting, stress, and physical activity. Bouts of pain can also be brought on by sexual activity, menstruation, and other periodic triggers.
You may also experience debilitating pelvic pain or pressure, frequent urges to urinate — up to 60 times a day, according to the Mayo Clinic — and smaller than usual volumes of urine.
Causes and risk factors
There’s no known cause of interstitial cystitis. However, certain factors may contribute to your risk of developing the illness, like:
- Being female
- Being older than 30
- Having a chronic condition like fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, or chronic pain disorder
- Having a family history of interstitial cystitis
- Having an autoimmune reaction
Interstitial cystitis is more than just an uncomfortable condition. The pain is often debilitating and can lead to complications, like reducing your bladder’s capacity to hold urine properly. Other potential complications include sexual dysfunction, interrupted sleep, and emotional distress.
How we treat bladder pain
At Urology Center of Florida, we provide you with the most innovative and effective methods for treating your urological problems. When it comes to bladder pain, we perform a comprehensive exam, with imaging and testing, to determine the root cause.
Treatment for bladder pain doesn’t follow one prescribed path, and a variety of treatment options can be combined to get the best outcome for you, including:
- Nerve stimulation through electrical devices
- Surgery to relieve pain and expand your bladder’s capacity
- Distention, meaning to stretch your bladder’s capacity with water
- Physical therapy
If you’re suffering from unexplained bladder pain, it could be interstitial cystitis. For a diagnosis or to learn more about your treatment options, call us to schedule an exam or book your appointment on our website today.