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September is Interstitial Cystitis Awareness Month

By Dr. Brooke Meinema PT, DPT, FAFS

September is interstitial cystitis awareness month. Interstitial cystitis (IC), also known as bladder pain syndrome (BPS), is a “chronic bladder condition resulting in recurring discomfort or pain in the bladder or surrounding pelvic region” (CDC). It is considered to be a neuromuscular disorder involving the bladder and pelvic floor muscles and nerves.

Potential causes:

  • Bladder wall trauma or injury
    • UTI
    • Chemotherapy
    • Chemical exposure
  • Pelvic floor injury or dysfunction
    • Can be caused by various traumas or childbirth
  • Genetics
  • Neurosensitivities

Symptoms for this may include:

  • pelvic pain or pressure
  • urinary frequency
  • urinary urgency
  • excessive need to urinate at night (nocturia)
  • painful intercourse
  • having symptoms of a UTI with negative cultures

What can I do if I have IC/BPS?

There are different avenues to try and manage the symptoms associated with IC/BPS. One important step is to maintain good hydration. A dehydrated bladder is an unhappy bladder. Another thing to be sure to monitor is your diet. While this is something that may seem very frustrating at first, it can be very helpful to figure out your specific triggers (common triggers can be acidic foods and caffeine). Modification diets can seem very daunting, but when you are able to get rid of your specific triggers, it is definitely worth it! It may be helpful to speak with a dietician or other professional to sort through how to address these changes. Since pelvic tension and trigger points can be very common with IC/BPS, working with a pelvic floor physical therapist can also be helpful to address this tension as well as provide you with ways to better manage these symptoms on your own. Pelvic floor PTs can also help you manage some of the other symptoms with painful intercourse and urinary frequency and urgency. Another important thing to keep in mind is your mental health when dealing with this. Getting a support group, seeing a therapist/counselor, and checking in to your current state improves outcomes. There are also other forms of medical treatments, such as bladder installations and medications, that can be helpful for some women. If you are unsure what medications or treatments may be helpful for your specific needs, be sure to discuss this with your doctor.

What should I not do?

Kegels! Kegels, or pelvic floor contraction exercises, are not encouraged for IC/BPS as it can lead to increased tension in an already tight and agitate pelvic floor. Also, don’t give up! It can take so long to get this diagnosis, and once diagnosed, it may feel like and uphill battle. Don’t let this get you down. There are so many options for you to help with this!

While it can be very frustrating to deal with interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome, we want you to know there are things you can do to help! At the end of the day, our goal is to put you in the driver’s seat; we want you to understand possible symptoms, ways to address it, and give you control over your bladder.

 

For a free 10-minute consultation, visit us at https://imovedaily.com/womens-health/ and fill out the form to contact a Women’s Health Physical Therapist and schedule your consultation.

 

https://www.cdc.gov/ic/index.html

https://www.ic-network.com/interstitial-cystitis-causes/

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