Interstitial Cystitis is long-term pain in the bladder, bladder pressure that can lead to pain in the pelvis region. The severity of pain may vary from very mild that can be ignored to severe unbearable pain. Interstitial Cystitis is one of several conditions that can cause pelvis pain. Interstitial Cystitis is more common in women than men. Current medications or treatment options are available only to provide relief than to cure the actual problem.
What are the symptoms of interstitial cystitis?
- Pain in pelvis region
- Pain in the perineum (the area between the scrotum and anus in men, vagina and anus in women)
- A continuous urge to urinate (or frequent urge to urinate) and unable to empty bladder completely leading to frequent urination.
- Pain and discomfort when the bladder is getting filled with urine
- Pain during sex (mostly due to pressure on pelvis region)
People suffering from urinary tract infections face severe symptoms when combined with interstitial cystitis. If you are having pain in the pelvis region for a continued period of time and are unable to sit for long, put little pressure on the abdomen region (while working or exercising), and has frequent urination problem you must see a good urologist immediately.
What causes interstitial cystitis?
The exact cause of interstitial cystitis is not known. One possible medical condition is having a ‘defect in the inner lining of the bladder. The inner lining of the bladder is called the epithelium. A puncture or defect in the epithelium allows urine to get in contact with the bladder walls causing irritation of the bladder. As a result, the normal functioning of the bladder is disturbed. Other possible causes of interstitial cystitis include autoimmune reaction, heredity, infection, etc.
Risk factors that can cause interstitial cystitis are age, gender, and other medical conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome or fibromyalgia.
Complications caused due to interstitial cystitis
- Frequent urination issue can disturb your day-to-day activities and affect your personal and professional life.
- Pain during sex can make you stay away from sex that can in turn to relationship problems if not diagnosed and treated.
- Reduced bladder capacity – The condition can cause stiffening of the bladder wall and as a result, the bladder will be able to hold only little amount of urine
- Frequent urination can also lead to sleep disturbances and cause emotional stress and may even lead to depression.
Diagnosing interstitial cystitis
As usual, diagnosis of interstitial cystitis starts with a series of questions along with current symptoms. When the symptoms are mild, your urologist may ask you to keep a note of the amount of liquids you are consuming and the number of times you need to empty your bladder. Further diagnosis may include:
- Pelvis Examination. Physical examination of pelvic organs by your urologist.
- Urine analysis to detect the presence of any microbes causing Urinary Tract Infection.
- Cystoscopy – a thin tube with camera and light at the end will be inserted into the bladder through the urethra to look at the lining of the bladder. Also, the capacity of the bladder may be measured.
- Biopsy – A small tissue may be removed from the bladder and sent for biopsy to look for the presence of cancer cells.
- Potassium sensitivity test – Potassium chloride solution will be injected into the bladder and you would be asked to rate the urgency to urinate on a scale of 0 to 5. After that, same test will be done by injecting water. If you feel more urgency to urinate when potassium chloride solution is injected, then the test confirms interstitial cystitis.
Treatment options for interstitial cystitis
- Physiotherapy – A physiotherapist can help in relieving any pain associated with muscle tenderness or tissues in the pelvic region.
- Medicines to relieve pain and relax bladder may be given by your urologist or urogynecologist.
- If your doctor feels that allergy might be a cause of the issue, you may be put on antihistamines
- Medicine that can help in restoration or fixing of the epithelium layer of the bladder.
- Nerve stimulation devices such as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) or Sacral nerve stimulation devices may be recommended.
- Bladder distention – In those who bladder’s capacity has shrunk, stretching of bladder with water might be a helpful treatment option. If you are feeling better after bladder distention, the treatment may be repeated at regular intervals.
- For those where all other treatment options don’t help, surgery might be the final option left with your urologist. Surgical treatment options for interstitial cystitis include fulguration (burning off ulcers in the bladder), resection (to cut/remove any ulcers) or bladder augmentation (increasing the bladder capacity by patching intestine).