If you have been diagnosed with Interstitial Cystitis/Painful Bladder Syndrome (IC/PBS) you are aware of how painful and inconvenient it can be. IC/PBS affects up to 6% of American women with women being affected more than nine times as often as men. Symptoms include: frequent urination (more than 8 times in 24 hours), pain, pressure, or discomfort in the lower pelvis or vulva, bladder pain or pressure, pain during or after sex, an urgent need to urinate and flare-ups during menstruation. This may all be triggered by a bladder wall becoming inflamed and super-sensitive. This in turn may cause pinpoints of bleeding and ulcers may appear and stiffness and scarring may occur.
Once you have received a diagnosis of interstitial cystitis or painful bladder syndrome, your doctor may prescribe a variety of treatments and medications. Intravaginal Thiele massage can be done by a physical therapist and you can learn to do the procedure at home. Electrical nerve stimulation and medications including anti-inflammatories antispasmodics and pain medications may be prescribed.
Your doctor may also recommend lifestyle changes such as using a personal lubricant for sex, soaking in colloidal oatmeal, reducing the intensity and duration of workouts during flare ups and making dietary changes. You should avoid cranberry juice which is acidic and may irritate a sensitive bladder. Other irritant drinks and foods include: caffeine products (sodas, coffa, tea), carbonated drinks, alcohol, citrus fruits, artificial sweetners, tomato products and spicy foods. Drinking more water may seem counterintuitive to a person running to the bathroom often. But skipping on water makes urine more concentrated and more irritating.
A technique called bladder retraining may be valuable. Urinating relieves pain temporarily, but some IC/PBS patients are using the bathroom so often that it reduces the bladder's capacity to hold urine comfortably. Retraining the bladder involves increasing your typical time between bathroom trips by 15 minutes. After two weeks, increase by another 15 minutes. The goals is to continue until you can wait at least two hours.
Finally, there are mind-body therapies that can be of value including, cranio-sacral therapy, acupuncture, yoga, meditation and hypnotherapy. Hypnotherapy can be a great tool to deal with the discomfort, prolong the time between trips to the bathroom and reduce stress and increase relaxation.