Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital March 6, 2013
Today’s post on interstitial cystitis, is the fourth post in a series about pelvic floor disorders that impact the quality of life in women. It was written by physicians in the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Division of Urogynecology, led by Dr. Vatche Minassian.
Occasional burning with urination or treatment for a urinary tract infection is common once women go through puberty. However, if you have chronic and disruptive burning or bladder pain and urine testing does not indicate an infection, you may have a condition called interstitial cystitis (IC). Women with IC have a urethra and/or bladder wall that is tender and easily irritated, leading to uncomfortable symptoms such as pain, a sense of the need to urinate, or the feeling of not emptying the bladder completely. There is no definitive test to diagnose IC, and there is no clear understanding of what causes it. Although IC currently has no cure, there are treatments that can help you manage your symptoms to feel better and live more comfortably.
Women with IC often experience gynecologic problems too, such as a worsening of bladder symptoms during intercourse, and pain or burning at the entrance to the vagina.The combination of symptoms can be very frustrating for patients. Women with this array of issues may need a referral for specialized diagnosis and treatment. Urogynecologists, with specialized training in gynecology as well as expertise in pelvic floor disorders, can manage both the urologic and gynecologic aspects of this condition. They also are comfortable talking to women about sensitive health conditions.
IC is a chronic condition and therefore requires ongoing care. There are many different treatments available, such as medications, office procedures, or simple outpatient surgeries. At the Brigham and Women’s Urogynecology Group, we develop individualized treatment plans to help our patients find the best relief with minimal disruption to their lives. We also find that pelvic floor physical therapy is a frequently overlooked and effective therapy. Our practice relies on several physical therapists with expertise in this area to administer this very effective treatment for IC.
One more thing: although IC can cause very disruptive bladder symptoms, it is rarely a sign of a life-threatening health problem.
Learn more about common urogynecologic conditions:
- Brigham and Women’s Urogynecology Group
- No Need to Stress About Stress Urinary Incontinence
- Pelvic Organ Prolapse: Common Yet Misunderstood
- Overactive Bladder: Tired of the Interruptions?