Interstitial cystitis, or bladder pain syndrome, is a chronic condition that can mimic a number of other pelvic disorders. According to women’s health entrepreneur Marla Ahlgrimm, bladder pain syndrome is often misdiagnosed as a urinary tract infection. However, unlike a bacterial UTI, bladder pain symptom will not improve with antibiotics.
Marla Ahlgrimm reports that upward of 8 million women in the US suffer with interstitial cystitis each year and the condition doesn’t discriminate based on age or race.
Bladder pain syndrome causes frequent bathroom trips, with many women reporting having to urinate more than 40 times in a 24 hour period. Lower abdominal discomfort and pain during sexual intercourse are both common bladder pain syndrome symptoms. The condition may also trigger ulcers and bleeding sores in the bladder. Marla Ahlgrimm notes that most women with bladder pain syndrome experience symptoms in flares with long periods of relief in between bouts.
Although many women with bladder pain only experience mild discomfort, many have extended symptoms that can result in low quality sleep and even depression, says Marla Ahlgrimm. Unfortunately, no one is 100% sure what causes bladder pain syndrome, although past bladder infection, family history, and a history of other conditions appear to increase a woman’s risk. Irritable bowel syndrome and chronic fatigue syndrome are common in women with interstitial cystitis.
Marla Ahlgrimm explains that bladder pain syndrome is diagnosed after a number of tests, including cystoscopy and bladder distention. A biopsy, which is a procedure where a doctor removes a small sample of tissue, may be performed to rule out other potential conditions. While there is no cure for bladder pain syndrome, treatments such as physical therapy, OTC pain relievers, nerve stimulation, and Botox injections may relieve symptoms. If bladder pain is exacerbated by an ulcer, this may be treated with a simple surgery that can relieve symptoms for several months. Bladder removal surgery is only necessary in a small number of cases.