Women who experience pain or discomfort in the area of their pelvis often believe they have a urinary tract infection, or perhaps even just bad menstrual cramps. Subsequently, they often don’t take the time to go see their physician to get properly diagnosed. This is unfortunate, because quite often the symptoms might actually be indicative of interstitial cystitis, which affects over 1 million women currently in the United States.
Interstitial cystitis also often goes undiagnosed because the symptoms can vary from one woman to the next; leading women to different conclusions as to what the causes may be should they choose to research the symptoms themselves. Symptoms can also change over time due to specific behaviors, such stress, sitting for long periods of time, or menstruation. If you experience any of the following symptoms on a continual basis, it may be worthwhile to speak with your physician to determine if you are suffering from interstitial cystitis.
Common symptoms of interstitial cystitis include:
- Pain or discomfort in the pelvic area
- A frequent urge to urinate throughout the day
- Pain or discomfort while urinating
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Increasing pain during activities such as walking or exercising
There may be periods where the pain or other symptoms appear to disappear for a while, only to return at a later point in time. This is also common, and should not be ignored.
Treating interstitial cystitis
The symptoms for interstitial cystitis can vary, and so can the recommended treatments. You may also have to try several different types of treatment until you find one that works best for you to alleviate your symptoms. Additionally, sometimes different treatments need to be tried in combination with one another in order to produce the best results.
Medications that can be used to treat interstitial cystitis
Your physician will likely recommend one or more types of medication to see if they help to alleviate your symptoms. The medications that have proven to be effective include:
- Over the counter anti-inflammatory pills such as Motrin or Advil
- Over the counter Antihistamines such as Claritin—these may help to reduce the urge to urinate as well as help reduce the discomfort and pain
- Pentosan, which has been specially designed solely for the treatment of interstitial cystitis. This medication often requires you to take it daily for a period of a few weeks to a few months before it can be determined if it is helping or not
- Antidepressants which can be effective in relieving pain and relaxing your bladder
Other treatments for interstitial cystitis
If medications don’t seem to be working very well, you might also try physical therapy. A physical therapist can help you learn specific exercises that can be performed that are designed to help relieve the pain associated with interstitial cystitis.
Nerve stimulation is another type of treatment that can also help to relieve pain and discomfort, as well as relax the bladder.
Finally, if none of the above treatments seem to have much positive affect, surgery may be required.