Painful bladder syndrome or interstitial cystitis (IC) is a chronic bladder health issue. Interstitial cystitis causes bladder pressure, bladder pain and occasionally pelvic pain. Symptoms vary from case to case and even within the same person. This bladder pain can range from mild discomfort and pressure to intense pain in the pelvic area. Since the symptoms of IC vary in severity and intensity, most researchers believe that painful bladder syndrome is not one, but a collection of several disorders.

Painful bladder syndrome (PBS) or interstitial cystitis (IC) includes all cases of urinary pain that cannot be attributed to other causes, such as infection or urinary stones. In cases of IC/PBS, the bladder wall may be irritated and become scarred or stiff. Pinpoint bleeding caused by repeated irritation (glomerulations) often appears on the bladder wall.

Some IC sufferers find that they cannot hold much urine, causing an increase in the frequency and need to urinate. People with severe cases of IC/PBS may urinate as many as 60 times a day.

IC/PBS is much more common in women than in men. It is estimated that 1 million Americans have been diagnosed with IC/PBS, with up to 90 percent of those cases diagnosed in women. IC can have a long-lasting impact on quality of life, and, while there is no cure, there are medications and therapies that can offer relief.

Painful Bladder Syndrome Symptoms

Symptoms of interstitial cystitis (IC) may include the urgent or frequent need to urinate, or a combination of both. This is often due to the relationship between the bladder and fullness: the fuller the bladder is, the more intense the pain can often be. Women’s symptoms often get worse during menstruation. Women may also experience pain with vaginal intercourse.

Other signs and symptoms of painful bladder syndrome:

  • Pain in the pelvis or between the vagina and anus in women
  • Chronic pelvic pain
  • A persistent, urgent need to urinate
  • Frequent urination, often in small amounts, up to 60 times over the course of a 24 hour period
  • Pain or discomfort while the bladder fills and after urinating
  • Pain during sexual intercourse

Painful bladder syndrome becomes a consideration if bladder pain and lower urinary tract symptoms that have lasted for more than six weeks without any clear causes such as UTI or other infection. Some people who are diagnosed with IC/PBS experience pain-causing syndromes in other areas of the body such as irritable bowel syndrome and fibromyalgia.

Causes of Painful Bladder Syndrome

The exact cause of IC/PBS is not known, but it is thought that many factors contribute to the cause of this syndrome. Possible contributing factors include:

  • An autoimmune reaction
  • Heredity: sex, skin and hair color may put one at risk. Women with fair skin and red hair have been associated with greater risk of IC/PBS
  • Age: most people with IC/PBS are diagnosed during their 30s or older
  • Infection
  • Allergy
  • Having previously been diagnosed with another pain disorder such as irritable bowel syndrome or fibromyalgia.

When to See a Doctor About Painful Bladder Syndrome

If you are experiencing chronic pain in the bladder, urinary urgency, or urinary frequency, and think you may have a pelvic inflammatory disease, call your doctor. Your doctor will talk to you about your history and perform a range of diagnostic tests to see if you have IC/PBS.

No single treatment may eliminate all signs and symptoms of IC, and there is no treatment that works for all cases of IC/PBS. Your doctor may try various combinations of treatments before you find a treatment plan that works for you.

You may even be referred to a physical therapist to help relieve the pain associated with pelvic muscle pain, restrictive connective tissue or muscle abnormalities in your pelvic floor.

How Advanced Gynecology Can Help: Treatment Options for Painful Bladder Syndrome

If you are suffering from chronic bladder pain or frequency and pain when urinating Advanced Gynecology is here for you.

Our board-certified team of women's health experts is ready to help you with diagnostic care and to discuss a range of treatment options. We will counsel you about the best options for you and your health.

We know that chronic, painful issues can deeply affect your life and the life of your loved ones around you. We are here to work with you to create the most comprehensive plan to make sure that you are on track to get back to your life as soon as possible.

For more information, schedule an appointment today or call 706-389-9228 to speak with one of our patient coordinators.

For more information, schedule an appointment today or call 706-389-9228 to speak with one of our patient coordinators.

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